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Closing the Pool on a 100-Degree Day!

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mk. 2:27, NIV).

They are draining the pool in my subdivision today even though the temperature is going to be close to 100-degrees.

Somehow, somewhere, it became a “tradition” that the swimming pools opened on Memorial Day and then closed on Labor Day (unless of course you live in Florida or California). Oh, I know that a number of pool operators don’t follow that “rule,” but it seems to set the tone for the opening and closing dates of most swimming pools.

Sure, there is a lot that goes into making that decision besides the temperature … hiring staff and the cost of maintaining the water are all factors in that decision … but still, the ultimate decision is made based on hard dates and not on the needs of the community that the pool serves. Lot’s of little kids would love to go to the pool after school today for a quick dip … probably lots of parents, as well. You just wish the powers-that-be (who decide to close the pool) were a little bit more flexible, a little bit more sensitive to the current situation, and not just adhering to tradition.

Since the beginning of time, we have made rules and regulations about when you can or can’t do certain things based more on the day than on the needs of humanity. Of course, some of the first of these rules were the Sabbath laws. Even though God said to honor the Sabbath and to keep it holy … the religious zealots took it to a whole new level.

A tailor couldn’t walk around with a needle stuck in his lapel for example. And these rules continue today … according to one website, some of the rules include not being able to: open an umbrella, tear toilet paper in a restroom, run, clip nails or to blow air into a ball or balloon. And anyone who has visited Jerusalem has probably experienced the Sabbath elevators that continually go up and down stopping at each floor, so you don’t have to push the button thus closing a circuit and thereby engaging in “work.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling the intent behind these restrictions. In fact, I think the American Protestant Church needs to revisit its “laissez faire” attitude toward the Sabbath and encourage Believers to find some things to NOT do on the Sabbath that will make the day a bit more holy. Of course, not watching Sunday afternoon football wouldn’t be on that list; after all, that tradition is a little bit holy in and of itself! Sad, but too true for comfort.

When the rule becomes more important than the person, however, that’s when something that is good becomes a problem – just like the Pharisee’s criticism of Jesus for allowing his disciples to grab a little protein snack while walking.

No, the closing of a pool on a traditional date does not rise to this level … but there are a lot of things that our religiosity requires that does! Religiosity, not our Faith, mind you.

Now, this is where I could get myself in trouble by listing some of the things that a “Good Christian does or does not do,” things including smoking, dancing and drinking, or going out with girls that do … but I will let you fill in the blank for yourself.

What do you need to be given permission to stop doing in order to live a more complete life?

What do you need to be given permission to do that will give you joy?

Ask the Lord of the Sabbath to see if this isn’t made for you, not you being a slave to it.



Lord of the Sabbath, sometimes I need permission to not do some of the things others think I should be doing. Grant me peace in saying “no” when it is appropriate. And sometimes, Lord, I need to do some of the things that give me joy, but that others think is “unchristian.” Lord, if it is something that will not dishonor you, give me peace in boldly doing that which gives me joy. Amen.


Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister

American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains


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