Eight hours you shall work a day, and five days you shall work a week, and it shall be insufficient to accomplish the tasks assigned to you and inadequate to support your household.
Seven days you shall have a side hustle, a second job, an extra gig, a Plan B, C, D, and Z; and when you retire—if you can afford to retire—your financial security will be subject to the whims of political policies and stock markets and economic tides.
Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord. – Leviticus 25:3-4 (NRSV)
The wealthy spoke to the world, saying: Welcome to our global harvest, which shall have neither a seventh day nor a seventh year.
Lent may be a season in which we practice the long haul of discipleship, but surviving the long haul of economic and labor injustices is no mere exercise for the majority of the world’s workforce: The trauma of making ends meet. The Covid Catch-22 of jobs that require in-person work. The ghastly 350% CEO-to-worker pay gap in the U.S. The soaring costs of healthcare and insurance. The long-gone vision of a 40-hour workweek as a measure of work-life balance.
People are crying out for a sabbatical, a free breath, a fallow year, a season of rest, a space in which life is valued for something other than its output.
The long haul of economic survival is no less (and perhaps more) a spiritual test than the long haul of Lenten discipleship. Though the math may be different, the stakes are the same:
The well-being of the community.
The sacred freedom of each one.
The restoration of the earth.
For sustenance when the ends don’t meet, for justice when well-being is undervalued, for rest when there are more tasks than hours, we pray for a miracle.
About the Author
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She’s the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.