What if nothing has changed? Photo by Rajmund Dabrowski
Just as we were about to engage in celebrations seeing the annus horribilis of 2011 departing from our sight and experience, a piece of news came from the islands of Samoa in the Pacific Ocean. The island nations, located between Hawaii and New Zealand, usually make the news as nations destined by their dateline designation to be first to light their fireworks.
The passage of 2011 into 2012 made some of the Samoan citizens celebrate calendar newness with trepidation. On December 29, the islands of Samoa and Tokelau repositioned the international dateline on - as was planned - reallocating the days of the week so that the seventh day of the week would fall on Sunday instead of Saturday as usual. For Seventh-day Adventists and for Jews it meant that Sunday was to become their religiously held Sabbath.
This in itself caused a dilemma for Seventh-day Adventist believers. All of a sudden ceasing to be distinct from other Christians? News reports indicated that not all believers on Samoan islands are in sync with each other. Whilst some congregations accepted Sunday as their new Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists in American Samoa said: No. They would not tamper continuity of their day of worship.
As many - including believers from far, far distant lands - began arguing who is right, what is wrong, which calendar option was more correct, and that it all bids not too well for the future of theological correctness, another item caught my attention. While many believers are eagerly awaiting what the official stance would be on the issue, a report in JTA, a Global News service for the Jewish People, see: http://bit.ly/v94w2f, sounded a concern regarding the jump “straight from Thursday to Saturday,” forfeiting the last Friday of 2011.
The report featured a resident Samoan Jew, Max Lapushin, concerned about a 49-hour Sabbath in Apia, the Samoan capital. “Lapushin, a 25-year-old American citizen, lives in Apia and has called the Pacific island nation home for nearly four years. A Jewish day school graduate from Atlanta, Lapushin first arrived in Samoa as a Peace Corps volunteer in October 2007 to teach computer classes. He was on the ground when the devastating 2009 earthquake and tsunami hit, killing more that 180 people. Lapushin recently returned to Samoa after a few months overseas to work as a computer consultant.”
The JTA report continued that, Lapushin only knows of two other Samoan Jews -- both Peace Corps volunteers -- who were on vacation the pre-New Year week. But, “If he's correct, it would make him the only Jew present on the Samoan mainland when the island nation turned the clock forward.”
With some indication – correctly or not – that Sunday-Sabbath could be an OK for some Seventh-day Adventist Samoans, Mr. Lapuskin reportedly said that, he “will follow their lead and light Shabbos candles on Saturday night.”
“When you talk about being Jewish," Lapushin explained, "people say, 'Oh, you're Seventh Day Adventist!'”
Whether or not Seventh-day Adventists will ever resolve their identity distinctiveness from their fellow Mormon or Jehovah Witness believers (see my previous blog text), they can safely rest their case when identity confusion connects them with their Jewish pedigree. Sabbath-candles notwithstanding, and theologically-speaking of course.