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True Sabbath

05 Jun

I was amused as I prepared for this morning, because it can be challenging for a Christian pastor to preach about Sunday as Sabbath or a day of rest. It is the primary and most visible workday of our week, but we also had the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly this week.

The Sabbath, thankfully, is not restricted to a certain calendar day of the week; however, we are still called to take a day of sabbath (rest) weekly.

  • The Israelites and modern Jewish adherents observe Friday (sundown) until Saturday (sundown) as Sabbath.
  • Muslim adherents observe Friday as Sabbath.
  • Christian adherents tend to observe Sunday as Sabbath.

Thus, I was amused as I prepared because Saturday is often my sabbath and the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly was Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Thus, the Sunday a year that sabbath rest is our scriptural focus there was no sabbath rest at hand for me. I wonder if other clergy found it amusing as well.

We, as people of faith, have this mandate or commandment to ‘take a weekly day of rest’, BUT how many of us hold to it?

I literally see two hands. It is interesting to note, it is the youngest among us who are receiving their sabbath rest. (These were ages 3 and 7).

As I pondered our lack of sabbath rest, a song came to mind. The artist is Granger Smith and the song is “Home Cooked Meal”, which starts:

the city is moving faster than the speed of neon light
night turns into day, a minute turns back into night
without rest, I guess that is what we wanted
if you’ve got a craving or if you need a fix
you can always find something that will do the trick
just find, in no time, it blows your mind, don’t it.

Its a fast food world, running and a-gunning
24 – 7 – 365, order it up and get what you like
yeah, it sure is something
but here is the deal, nothing is real
it is a fast food world, dying for a home-cooked meal. 

We are living in a time and a place, where we are consistently on the run.
We are constantly busy, we have places to go and people to see, until we realize that we are, in fact, NOT the Energizer Bunny. We go and go and go until we eventually crash.

  • Sometimes we physically crash and burn. It is our bodies telling us to rest.
  • Sometimes we cannot ‘think clear’. It is our minds telling us to rest.
  • Sometimes we are MOODY. It is our mental, emotional, spiritual selves seeking rest.

We, as humans, are not simply our physical bodies or its physical energy. We are composed of our spirits/souls, our intellect, as well as our mental, emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing. If one piece of our wellbeing is exhausted, out-of-whack, or not whole, then we as a whole will suffer. This can be hard for us to wrap our minds around.

A few years ago, I heard of a psychology study whose results I responded: “ah ha! The sciences are realizing this connection and need for rest”. According to the study, we need two consecutive days off from work, because the first we are task orientated and focused on our uncompleted tasks (at home/office). Yet, the second day we are better able to rest.

This week, on Psychology Today, I found a program named “The Power of Rest” and its description, which read:

About The Power of Rest
Rest is regeneration. “The Power of Rest” shows you how to use active rest
– physical, mental, social, and spiritual –
to control that regeneration, as well as maximize the effects of passive forms of rest like sleep.

Rest is necessary for survival. Active rest techniques, most of which can be accomplished within 60 seconds, can calm you in the middle of the maelstrom or revive you when exhausted – while improving productivity. 

What might be some active forms of rest?

  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Time with family/friends/pets who feed your soul (not drain you of energy)

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? It sounds SO simple, yet it is not.

Ben Kyle was the musician at the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly.
Ben is from a the band, Romantica, out of the Lutheran heartland in Minnesota.
While at the Synod Assembly, I purchased a few CDs that I listened to on my drive back from Fort Wayne. The lyrics to “Harder to Hear” stayed with me, which included:

It is getting harder to hear the truth these days
harder to hear the truth
there is so much money in the way
there is so much money in the way

It is getting harder to hear from God these days
harder to hear from God
there is so much religion in the way
there is so much superstition in the way

Oh, somebody save me, somebody save me
I don’t wanna be cool
oh. somebody shine the light on this soul tonight
I don’t wanna be right

It is getting harder to hear the love these days
harder to hear the love
there is so much criticism in the way
so much ammunition in the way

It is getting harder to hear the hope these days
harder to hear the hope
so much journalism in the way
so much ammunition in the way

Oh, somebody save me, somebody save me
I don’t wanna be right
oh, somebody shine the light on these souls tonight
We don’t need to be right

The reality is that when we do not feed our souls, minds, and bodies with sabbath rest:

  • It becomes harder and harder to hear God’s voice in our world.
  • It becomes harder and harder to see the hope in our world.
  • It becomes harder and harder to see the love in our world.
  • It become easier and easier for everything else to ‘get in the way’.
  • We can become grumpy, depressed, and hateful.

Sabbath rest is not simply ‘nice’ to have. Sabbath rest is needed for our own restoration.

BUT, sabbath is not meant for us, as individuals or humankind, alone.
Sabbath is intended for the sake of all the world, for all living beings, and for all creation.

In our Mark scripture, Jesus was criticized by the religious elite for “working” on the sabbath, but he understood that the ‘work’ (purpose) of sabbath is restoration. Jesus, I believe, would have argued that the restoration of a man’s withered hand was not only ‘necessary’ work but demonstrated the true purpose that was and is the sabbath.

As we prepare to leave this place today, I encourage all of us to ponder sabbath rest.
How can the sabbath be restorative in our lives?

  • as individual persons?
  • as families?
  • as church?
  • as community?
  • as culture?
  • as a world?

I, personally, would love to witness us re-commit to that commandment to
“keep the sabbath”, a day of restorative rest, in order that
we can strive towards hearing God’s will, witnessing to hope, and
witnessing to love in a world that does not hear it often enough.
Amen. 

Scriptures were Deuteronomy 5:12-15 and Mark 2:23 – 3:6.
Originally preached on 3 June 2018 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).
 
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Posted by on June 5, 2018 in Sermons, Uncategorized

 

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