Is Sunday Still the First Day of the Week?

Is Sunday Still the First Day of the Week?

We’re Christians. We follow King Jesus. We mark out one day a week—the first, not the last—to worship the risen Lord. We sing of his goodness and grace and trust his promise to return and blast away death forever. Sunday is his day. And he comes first.

Maybe you’ve noticed it too. On various apps and sites, the calendar has shifted to Monday as the first day of the week. If you want to keep Sunday as Day 1, you can sometimes tailor the calendar to your preference, but the default has changed.

This comes as no surprise. Most people look at Saturday and Sunday as a pair—two days at the end of the week. “What is a weekend?” asked the elderly Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey, delightfully clueless as to how the working class a century ago conceived of time. Since regular business hours are Monday to Friday, it makes sense when people assume Monday is the best candidate for Day 1. It’s the start of the workweek.

But that’s just it. Collapsing the week into the workweek is what troubles me.

Week and Workweek

The way we orient ourselves in time—how we think of our days—makes a difference in how we conceive of our life and purpose. Our choices in how we order time contain moral instruction.

Starting the week with Monday indicates we see our lives primarily in terms of work. Productivity matters most. Contrast a Monday-first mindset with a Sunday-first outlook. When the week begins with worship and rest, everything that follows gets cast in the light of grace and gratitude. Work becomes a subset of worship. We begin not with what we do but with who we are in Christ.

Are Sundays Special?

But Trevin, you say. Sundays aren’t that different anymore. So the calendar shift doesn’t matter that much. True, unfortunately. Even for many Christians, aside from an hour or so spent in church, the rest of the day slips into the same leisure activities as Saturday—or for some, becomes just another day of work at one of the countless places open all week long.

But the way we treat Sunday puts us out of step with our forefathers and mothers in the faith. The original consensus statement adopted by Southern Baptists nearly a century ago, The Baptist Faith and Message, not only devoted an entire article to the Lord’s Day but also specified what proper stewardship of Sunday looked like:

The first day of the week is the Lord’s day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

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