Here we are in the midst of Spring Break 2019! I hope yours is off to great start. Of course for many folks, spring break means nothing … work must go on. I suppose that in our culture spring break is largely associated with school/college age students getting a week off and then families, who are able, take a short trip or vacation. But I think the history of Spring Break runs deeper than merely giving teachers and students a much needed break from the grind of school.
Some would say that the arrival of spring is a season of fertility and awakening. The ancient Greeks and Romans would celebrate the arrival of spring with the worship and adoration of the god of the vine and fertility , Dionysus or Bacchus. And if you know anything about the culture of those days, the wine-drinking was unrestrained as was much other immoral behavior. But our more modern version of spring break can likely be attributed to Sam Ingram, a swimming coach at Colgate University, who brought his swim team to Ft. Lauderdale in 1936 to train at the first Olympic size swimming pool in Florida. The city, sensing a grand marketing opportunity, in 1938 began hosting the College Coaches Swim Forum at this same pool every year. This even grew as hundreds of swimmers across the country would descend on Ft. Lauderdale every spring. In 1959, Time magazine featured an article, “Beer and the Beach.” One person interviewed for the article was quoted as saying, “It’s not that we drink so much, it’s that we drink all the time.” The event grew and grew, became decidedly raunchier, until when in the late ‘80’s the mayor of Ft. Lauderdale went on national TV and said students are no longer welcome there. Naturally, students found their way to other beaches, domestic and international, and in 1986 MTV launched its first spring break special from Daytona Beach, FL. Today, many beaches, including ones where many of us regularly visit, are overwhelmed during spring break with thousands of people, many engaging in all sorts of bacchanal, immoral, and excessive behaviors. Greek and Roman cultures of old have returned in full force!
I write all this but I don’t suspect that many readers are looking for such a week of debauchery and wickedness. But we are looking for rest, a slower pace, relaxation, less stress, a time to re-energize and re-focus … if only for a week or so. And though the week of spring break is limited in its power to grant such desires, even for those who can and do travel, our God has given us a very simple means to find the much needed rest and energy that we so desperately crave and need. It’s called the Lord’s Day … Sunday … the day the Lord has designated for us to worship Him, to enjoy Him, to find our hope and comfort in Him, to feed upon His grace in a special way that we’re typically unable to during the regular work week. I’m not suggesting we become Pharisaical and think of the sabbath rest as some sort of law that we must do to earn God’s favor and grace; coming to church on Sunday doesn’t merit you God’s favor. Christ has fulfilled the law, He IS our sabbath, and in Him we find true and complete rest from our labors to earn God’s love, and in Him alone we are righteous. However, when we neglect the Lord’s Day, when we view corporate worship as optional and become sporadic in attendance, when we neglect to meet together with the body of Christ as Hebrews 10 warns us not to, when we fail to observe Sunday as a special day and then actually rest from our normal labors, I believe we are dishonoring the Lord and hurting ourselves. We dishonor Him by implying His work on the cross and resurrection isn’t really that significant and not worth honoring on a weekly basis. We hurt ourselves by forsaking the rest and re-focusing that we seriously need.