Friday, April 11, 2014


I have gotten into the habit of going to Starbucks before church on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday, while I waiting for my drink, I started pondering whether going to Starbucks on Sunday was really a good idea.

By contributing to Starbucks's profits on Sunday, I am ensuring that its employees have to work. That possibly deprives them of a chance to go to church or to have a Sabbath. Yes, maybe they can go to church on Saturday night or watch an online service later, but still. Contributing to worldly consumption on the holy day feels a bit off.

And it's not just Starbucks. I grew up in a family where eating out for Sunday lunch was the standard. And we're by no means the only family to have that tradition--churchgoers descending on restaurants after church is universal--the "after-church lunch crowd." And when I worked at Target, it was a well-known fact that Sundays mornings were dead, but Sunday afternoons were nasty (because, you know, the ads came out and people wanted to be the first to get the good deal).

There are a few places that close on Sunday--Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby come to mind--but even then I know I'm just as guilty as anyone else of complaining that I craved CFA on Sundays and that I wished it was open. Target used to close on Sundays, but not so anymore. I'm surprised that they still close on Easter Sunday to be honest.

What would it be like if Christians stopped spending money on Sundays? What if we went home for lunch and didn't get Starbucks (or donuts) before church? What if we didn't stop for gas or milk after Sunday Night Bible study? (These are all things that I have done in my life.) How would that change the economic patterns?

Christians are good at turning out for causes they support--the CFA gay marriage scandal comes to mind. I remember watching the news and seeing lines wrapped around various CFA restaurants. What if we were that excited about NOT spending money on Sundays? Oh wait, that would inconvenience us. My bad.

Recently, I have read two books about living purposely (7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and Flunking Sainthood by Jana Riess). Both of these women did an experiment where they took the Sabbath seriously and did no work on Sundays. This was seen as unique enough to warrant an entire chapter of their respective books. Taking the Sabbath seriously in our culture is so rare that doing so can land you a book deal.

So when we follow the Lord's command and take the Sabbath off, we give ourselves a pat on the back. Yet we don't seem to care if our brothers and sisters in the service industry get the opportunity to take the Sabbath. Is that truly OK?

I think the problem is typically we DON'T take a Sabbath. Thus why would we care if others don't get one either? Busyness is so glorified now--Sundays are for sport games and birthday parties as far as Facebook is concerned. And we have to have fast food to cram into our faces between commitments.

I think the problem is nearly insurmountable as long as our busyness culture prevails. Or at least as long as Christians subscribe to that mentality.

Christians are a mighty force in American culture--we could instill major economic change if we put our minds to it and inconvenienced ourselves a bit. And maybe stores being closed on Sundays could be the norm again, and not the rare, applauded occurrence.

And I'm going to stop going to Starbucks on Sundays.

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