Saturday, July 25, 2009
I deliberately said nothing about Michael Jackson at the time of his death because there seemed to be far too much frenzied attention given to his troubled life. It's not well known that he grew up as a Jehovah's Witness and while this is a strange sect, it emphasizes strict sabbath-keeping.
Apparently when Michael was a child performer with the Jackson Five, he longed for time just to play. On the sabbath he was able to escape the pressures of performance. The elders in his Jehovah Witness church treated him like everyone else, even though he was already a star. "I still miss the sense of community that I felt there," As an adult Jackson said. "I miss the friends and the people who treated me like I was simply one of them. Simply human. Sharing a day with God."
One of the strengths of honouring the sabbath and keeping it holy is the pause from regular activity to be mindful of God. It is different from taking a vacation or what we call recreation. It is an opportunity to become grounded and in touch with a deeper spiritual reality which does not allow us to become little gods. As people continue to indulge in the cult of celebrity (Jackson will probably be the biggest selling pop artist of 2009) there is the reminder for all of us to be rooted in our Christian faith and to keep the sabbath.