Monday, August 20, 2007

On the Sabbath? Luke 13:10-17

First a prayer request.

Southeastern Minnesota has been deluged with rain over the past 3 days. We've got a trickle of water in our basement; but that's nothing compare to others nearby. Some are missing, some lost their lives as roads and homes were swept away by quiet streams the swelled to raging torrents. Please keep my neighbors an hour to the east, along the Root, White Water, and Zumbro River in prayer.

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On the Sabbath?

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, and he saw a woman who was bent over; her back held in place, Luke says, by an evil spirit. Jesus called to her releasing her from her body from whatever caused such pain. She stood straight.

Jesus set her free. But the synagogue leader challenged him.

[He] was angry because Jesus healed on the Sabbath day. He said to the people, “There are six days when one has to work. So come to be healed on one of those days, and not on the Sabbath day.”
Jesus didn't run from the challenge. Instead he responded by challenging the leaders of the synagogue.
“You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you untie your work animals and lead them to drink water every day—even on the Sabbath day? This woman that I healed, a daughter of Abraham, has been held by Satan for eighteen years. Surely it is not wrong for her to be freed from her sickness on a Sabbath day!”  Luke 12:14-17 NCV
The outrage of the synagogue leader is foreign to us and our time. We have no holy day or even holy time set aside in our culture. The idea that a time would be sacred or a space reserved for reverence and for God is hard to teach to someone who has never grown up knowing examples of such respect. As parents we wrestle teaching our girls what matters most is love for God and the neighbor. We know that what matters most to us may be of little value to others.

What's the best response to the culture?
We know God's law insists on one day to be kept holy; but our culture ignores this law, or worse yet, has never known it.

A few years ago Marva Dawn and Ray Comfort wrote from very different perspectives about keeping a time for Sabbath. These could prove helpful for discussion; because the both are asking provocative questions about rest and work and faith and God. These questions are easily ignored in the rush to big box store or the football game or the side job or even the main job that we have every Sunday.

The challenge, for us in the church, is not to call for legislation banning work and commerce on Sunday. We could do much better. Sabbath is a gift to discover. There is joy and freedom to be found in a day of rest spent with God and the people we love. Only as we receive it as a gift can we tell others of the same gift.

2 comments:

Pastor Eric said...

"Sabbath is a gift to discover. There is joy and freedom to be found in a day of rest spent with God and the people we love. Only as we receive it as a gift can we tell others of the same gift." -- I like this "gift" language you use for the sabbath. We have a commandment that commands us to keep the sabbath day holy, but the sabbath, as you point out, is both and. It's like baptism -- is it a law or a gift? When we proclaim the Gospel and when people are transformed by the Holy Spirit, then we keep the Sabbath and baptism and etc, not out of "corrersion" but in response to what God has done for us.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Diane said...

yes, thanks for your thoughts, and of course, you are all in our prayers...