Should alcohol be sold on Sundays? This question has been on the radio, on TV, and in conversations around town. Let's think about it.
This Sunday, March 16, is celebrated by most Christians as Palm Sunday. This is when Jesus came into Jerusalem with the crowds waving palm branches and the children singing, "Hosanna."
What did Jesus do next? He went up to the temple, proceeded to make a whip and drove out the money changers.
It would have been chaotic, and it may have been as miraculous as feeding the 5,000 or walking on water, but Christ was not put off and they were put out. This was the ferocious side of Jesus - the lion of Judah.
King Solomon wrote, "There is a time and place for everything ... a time for peace and a time for war." Evidently Jesus agreed, but what was he fighting over?
Jesus was not against commerce, in general. He does not go through the streets of Jerusalem hunting for money changers to beat. No, it was perfectly legitimate to buy and sell out on the streets around the temple, just not in the temple. Jesus did not want commerce to invade the sacred space.
Now apply this principle to sacred time. "Remember the Sabbath" is number four in the list of the Ten Commandments. It stands at the divide between the commandments that are chiefly related to God and those that are mostly related to other people - the position suggesting that the practice of holy time is how a people move from the love of God to the love of others. In other words, it takes time for God to do the necessary work within our hearts.
It takes time for us to be reminded of what is important - that life is more than work, more than paying bills, more than collecting stuff. It takes time for us to realize that we are God's people, and that God is our God.
The Sabbath is about time, time to remember our identity, time to refocus on what matters.
It was said of the Jews, that the Sabbath kept them as much as they kept the Sabbath. The same could be said of Christians and Sunday.
It is not just that Christians kept Sunday as special; it that special Sundays and "blue laws" restricting business on Sundays carved out a space in time for simple things, like church, walking in the park, visiting with friends and family.
When people reminisce about the "good old days," it is easy to forget that one of the reasons life was more in focus back then, was that people had more time to refocus on what was important.
I do not think that days of businesses being closed on Sundays will ever come back in America, but with the school violence, the high prison population and all the rest of our problems, maybe taking a "time out" would do us some good.
O.K, enough of the sermon. As to the question, should there be sales of alcohol on Sunday?" The answer is no, of course not; nothing else should be sold on Sundays either. We just have better things to do on Sundays.
John Donaldson is the pastor at Newborn & Mansfield UMC. Send e-mail to