Genesis 2:2,3 “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
I am a ni-Vanuatu at heart. I have always been, and will always be, proud of that fact. There is no amount of coaxing by any third-party that will make me willfully deny the place of my origin. This is where I was born and grew up. I have never known any other place that I can call home like I do Vanuatu.
Both my parents are from Vanuatu – from the volcanic land of Ambrym. That island has so much stereotypes attached to it, so much so that people from other islands shun any associations to it by default; but it is my land of origin. It is where I spent my formative years; where I learnt about family ties, kastom, religion and language. My identify was formed in a tiny village just a few kilometers uphill from Linbul village, on the Northern part of Ambrym. I am from Fanjever village!
One particular weekly event springs to mind every time I think back to when I was a kid at Fanjever village. This event happened on Fridays. You see, the whole village that I am from is comprised of practicing Seventh-day Adventists.
When Friday arrived, there was no personal work to be done. Instead, everybody would go to the gardens, get some root crops, cabbages and vegetables, fruits, laplap leaves, dried coconuts, firewood then immediately head back home. Once home, the preparation of food for the remaining hours of Friday and the whole of Sabbath (Saturday) would begin.
Kids knew the part they were to play. Fathers and mothers kept order and made sure all responsibilities were carried out. No one was idle. Everyone had a work to do.
What was all this preparation for? It was a preparation for the Sabbath day. The next day would be the Sabbath. This is the day that no one was allowed to work. The whole village came to a halt and individuals rested. You could feel on the Sabbath that a holiness had encompassed the village. There would be church services, then lunch, then people singing – getting ready for the afternoon services.
When afternoon came, the church would be as packed as it was in the mornings. There were no excuses. The elderly and the younger villagers would sit together and sing their collective hearts out.
Those are pleasant memories which I can only ponder upon now. But I loved those Friday preparation days. Those were the times when you could feel the presence of the Sabbath approaching. It was a feeling like someone was coming to meet us at the village.
Children would be cleaned and ready for church by 4:30pm to 5:00pm. We would all be in church singing choruses before night came. Parents would soon after join the rest of us in church and services would begin with an apparent air of heavenly fellowship.
I didn’t use to appreciate this as a kid. But now that I only ever occasionally experience this, I am beginning to understand that feeling. It was indeed God’s presence that was approaching during those Friday preparations. He was coming to meet His children during the Sabbath hours. The hours which He had “blessed …and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work …”
How I long for that day, when all human kind will rest in the presence of God continually and be filled with rejoicing because at that time, everyone is free from worry.