What do religious people do on Sunday
People need Sunday
People need Sunday
Joint declaration by the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany and the German Bishops' Conference, 1999
Sunday is appreciated
- Sunday is one of the important contributions Christianity makes to the culture of our society. Many are aware that it contributes significantly to the quality of human coexistence. Sunday is widely recognized and respected as a common day of rest, as protection for workers, as a symbol of freedom and as a day of Christian worship. The Basic Law protects Sunday as a day of rest from work and spiritual exhilaration. Sunday work is therefore only possible in expressly specified and justified exceptional cases.
- Large sections of the population agree about the need to protect Sunday. More than two thirds of the population reject an extension of the shop opening hours on Sundays. Only a minority want to go shopping on Sunday. The claim that the population largely wrote off Sunday is just as wrong as the assumption that a majority wants to go shopping or even work on Sunday. It is irresponsible if in this way the picture is drawn of a society that no longer knows what to do with Sunday as a day of rest and reflection.
- It is one of the special tasks of the churches to get involved in the culture of Sunday. The maintenance of the common day of rest is firmly anchored in the Ten Commandments. For Christians, Sunday has gained its outstanding importance as the day of the resurrection of Christ. Both together shape the relationship of Christians to this day. The conscious shaping of Sunday through the divine service, in the congregations, in personal life, in the families is therefore the first thing that they have to contribute to the Sunday culture. At the same time, Christians and the churches share responsibility for social coexistence. It serves society as a whole when the churches strongly advocate the protection of Sunday.
Sunday is in jeopardy
- Overarching economic and social changes have an impact on Sunday. The change from an industrial society to a service and information society is changing the form and organizational form of work. The range of personal services is growing. This is directly linked to a change in demand behavior, and with demand behavior, lifestyles, leisure behavior and thus the relationship between work and leisure also change. These overarching economic and social changes are characterized by increased mobility and flexibility. They cause an "acceleration of life". The dissolution of time structures can also be experienced on the social level - through the dissolution of the traditional rule of highlighting a day as a day of rest. It is a path towards a 24/7, anytime, anywhere society.
- This development is problematic when the economic calculation determines all areas of life, strains social relationships and restricts personal time management more and more. Then personal time and the togetherness in family and friendship also get sucked into the effects of supply and demand. Attitudes among the population are also changing. The differences between Sunday and working day are becoming increasingly blurred. All of this endangers Sunday and its humanizing function. Without Sunday there are only working days. Responsible handling of these developments can only be guaranteed if the question is asked and answered as to where the limits are and what freedom should be preserved. One must be aware that Sunday is not a holdover from a bygone era, but an opportunity for a society in transition.
- A creeping erosion of the Sunday protection in Germany has been observed for a long time. Again and again cuts were made in the protection area of this day. Taken individually, they were measured in such a way that many citizens assessed them as "insignificant" or "acceptable". In fact, however, the extent and quality of the interventions lead to a substantial impairment of the character of Sunday and its culture in the family and in society.
- The interventions to date are already worrying. The Sunday was progressively eroded over many individual stations. These stations include:
- the revision of the working time law in 1994;
- the revision of the shop closing act in 1996;
- an increase in the number of Sundays on which shops in health resorts and resorts are allowed to be open;
- the exaggerated recognition of places as resorts and tourist destinations solely for the purpose of enabling extended shop opening times in them (swimming pools and tourism regulations);
- the expansion of Sunday work through the so-called needs trade regulations of the federal states, for example in the advisory and service sectors;
- the granting of exemptions from the Sunday work ban even in very dubious cases.
- As a result of the extensive use of special permits in the areas of trade and services, Sunday work has increased by half in just seven years. Demands for further exceptions combined with violations of the law lead to fear of a "conflagration" that is detrimental to people and society. The effects on the affected employees and their families are played down in an unacceptable manner. The work of others is willingly used to beautify one's own Sunday without the beneficiaries admitting to themselves the social price to be paid for it. Sunday work is one of the least popular forms of work. If the tendencies described are not checked, society threatens to be divided into Sunday losers and Sunday winners.
- The social change that we are experiencing has an impact on how we deal with Sunday. The individualization of life forms changes the importance of the common free time. This is also evident in the way many Christians deal with Sunday. Even among them, interest in the religious and cultural significance of this day is sometimes too weak. Many people are embarrassed about how to celebrate and organize Sunday. If Christians want to attach great importance to Sunday for society, it is important that they themselves sanctify this day in a new way. The celebration of Sunday worship and its common organization in the congregation, in the family or among friends must be filled with new life.
People need Sunday
- People need Sunday. The alternation of work and rest is part of human life and existence. Sunday breaks the cycle of work and consumption. Dealing with leisure time should not only be determined by the market and business. The principle "time is money" should not rule every day. People have to have time for what does not pay off economically. This is what Sunday stands for. The Christians, who celebrate it as the first day of the week, also refer to the tradition of the Sabbath in the Old Testament: "You can create for six days and do any work," it says there. "The seventh day is a day of rest, consecrated to the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy / Deuteronomy 5: 13-14).
- Sunday gives the sense of time a recurring rhythm and grants regular freedom. It helps to keep the necessary distance from accelerating change, from the pressure to adapt in working life and leisure behavior. In the performance society, it offers a zone of freedom from the pressure to perform. Regular interruptions are part of the responsible use of time. "False time", that is, unmanaged time, are indispensable for the perception of human freedom. Those who want to buy out their time to the limit and disregard the rhythm of time undermine the natural conditions of life as well as the conditions of freedom.
- People live in relationships: the family, the community of friends, the neighborhood, the social environment. These relationships can only succeed if shared free time can be used for them. Sunday is a day of rest from work, on which as many people as possible should have "free" at the same time. Cohesion in manageable communities and in society as a whole is not guaranteed by economic goods alone; this also includes sharing cultural goods, experiencing, perceiving and shaping time together. Especially in a mobile society in which many are tense due to their work or have to worry about their lives without secure gainful employment, Sunday is irreplaceable for the renewal of the life together. Where this source of renewal is absent, the ordeal intensifies. If the father has his "Sunday" on Monday, the mother on Wednesday and the children on Sunday, this is a burden on the family and contributes to the development of conflicts.
Christians celebrate Sunday
- Because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath (Mark 16: 2), Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord's day. The meaning of the Sabbath was incorporated into the celebration of Sunday. The first of the seven days of creation is the beginning of creation. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the beginning of the new creation. So Sunday embraces old and new creation. Whoever celebrates Sunday confesses: Christ is risen, he lives. Sunday as the first day of the week expresses joy in both the old and the new creation. From the very beginning, Christians expressed thanks for creation and praise for the resurrection of Christ in the worship service. "By gathering together for worship, Christians make it clear that the distinction between Sunday and everyday life serves life. The celebration of Sunday is the Christian's response to what God has done. (...) It is important about this Day to reflect and calm down so that we can discover what we have to thank for. " (Common word of the German Bishops' Conference and the EKD Council "Celebrate Sunday", 1984)
- Even in the time of the apostles, the "first day after the Sabbath" began to determine the rhythm of life for the first Christians. They chose this day to gather together and "break the bread" (Acts 20: 7-12), they celebrated worship. Wherever since then people have gathered for worship, reconciliation in Jesus Christ takes on concrete form. In worship, God collects and maintains his church.
- With the commandment to sanctify Sunday, God claims all of human life and time. His doing should be a special doing and his time should be a special time. Sunday is an indication and promise of the redeeming rest and joy in the kingdom of God. Sunday must therefore remain a special day. The meaning of Sunday in its effects on society remains tied to this special day. The meaning of Sunday cannot be detached from the special day; he would be lost as a whole. The Sunday rest cannot be replaced by any break between work hours.
Advocating for Sunday
- Sunday as the day of rest from work and reflection is indispensable for the humane quality of human life and coexistence, especially in a time of social change. That is why the churches stand up for the protection of Sunday and the cultivation of Sunday culture. It is important that the meaning and future shape of Sunday in all areas of society are discussed anew in all areas of society.
- One of the tasks of the legislative organs is to ensure the protection of Sundays in accordance with the constitution. This applies to the municipalities and states, but also to the federal government and increasingly also to the European level. Only large-scale regulations on Sunday protection do justice to the cultural significance of Sunday. The shop opening times are to be designed in such a way that the protection of Sundays is guaranteed by the Basic Law. The disregard of the legal regulations for the protection of Sundays must be vigorously countered. Anyone who tries to circumvent the applicable regulations or openly calls for them to be broken undermines the foundations of the entire legal system.
- We call on those who are politically responsible to put a stop to a further expansion of Sunday work and a creeping erosion of Sunday protection. The exceptions to the ban on Sunday work must be limited to what is really necessary in terms of services and offers in the interest of the general good, for the benefit of people in need and in view of the meaningful organization of free time. The necessary exceptions to the ban on Sunday work do not include those services that can be postponed and thus can also be provided on working days. In municipalities and cities, limits must be placed on the advance of commercial events and sales shows. The path to the service society with its consequences for Sunday work must be designed responsibly. Precisely because of the inevitable changes in a service and information society, politics must recognize and preserve the contribution that Sunday makes to the humane organization of society.
- The economy bears a great responsibility in terms of maintaining Sunday. Part of the economy recognizes this responsibility and makes the necessary contribution to protecting Sunday. Another part wants to make Sunday work possible, especially in trade and services, and refers to the changed Sunday habits in the population. Those who demand this should consider the consequences for workers and their families. But the effects on smaller companies that cannot keep up with this kind of development must also be kept in mind. The regular interruption of the working week should not simply be seen as an economic disadvantage. If employees are required to be flexible in terms of time, their health, personal stability and security are at risk; in the end, this undermines the very performance on which the economy depends. The responsibility of the economy must not be limited to a short-term economic calculation. The economy also shares responsibility for people, society and culture.
- We invite partners in other areas of society to take part in a constructive conversation about Sunday and its significance for people. It is a common task in civil society to maintain the general consensus on the protection of Sunday. When advocating for Sunday, too, the Church attaches great importance to working together with other social forces. It's not just about protection, but also about creating a special day for people, for the family, for the community and for God. Society as a whole has an important role to play here.
- Sunday is for everyone - regardless of their religious or ideological conviction - an offer to reflect and pause. It offers a space to become aware of the important and decisive questions: Who am I? Where am I going? What source do I live from? What is it worth living for? It also offers space for prominent, festive encounters with others. Through their own actions, people decide what value and what quality Sunday has for them.
- We ask Christians to publicly stand up for the value of Sunday and through their behavior to make people aware of the importance of time given, of common leisure time, of reflection and rest. Churches and Christians are faced with the task of making the Christian and humane meaning of Sunday understandable and giving it a new attraction. You cannot be satisfied with politically demanding the protection of Sunday; what matters is how you deal with it yourself. For Christians, one of the encounters that Sunday makes possible is the gathering before God. So the Sunday shows beyond itself. He shows that all time is in the hands of God. People must not be stressed indefinitely by the constraints they have created themselves. The preservation and future-oriented shaping of Sunday is possible if Christians courageously profess it together with others, accept it as an enriching gift from God and work with him for a more humane community. Sunday must be kept alive and renewed by every generation.
September 16, 1999
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