How do we feel about keeping HOLY the Lord’s DAY?
Does it make us feel uneasy? We don’t keep it like we used to.
There used to be a time when as Richard Swanson writes:
“Sabbath, is welcomed into the house as a queen . . . Sabbath is a foretaste . . . a glimpse of God’s dominion, a little slice of the messianic age dropped into the midst of regular time. Sabbath offers a remembrance of God’s promise of peace and freedom for all of creation. It is . . . a gift from God. Sabbath is a day that lifts people’s eyes to God’s promise in the midst of the most unpromising circumstances” (Provoking the Gospel of Luke).
We do carve out peace in the midst of busy lives when we keep Sunday holy.
Let’s look at the Sabbath as a GIFT of time that God GIVES to US.
In today’s gospel, the religious authority is trying to tell JESUS about the BEST use of TIME.
No HEALING on the Sabbath!
Rule #1: Don’t EVER EVER try and tell Jesus what to do!
Rule #2 Don’t tell JESUS, the AUTHOR of TIME and SPACE the best way to USE time!
You will get JESUS healing on the SABBATH.
There are five instances in Scripture where he heals on the Sabbath and SPARS with religious leaders. Jesus’ point is that HEALING and the sabbath GO together.
To the religious authorities – healing looks like work.
But we know, they are going to oppose anything Jesus does. That’s just an excuse.
We can look at Jesus as a reformer who is bringing back the original meaning of the Sabbath or Sunday for us.
It’s NOT about restrictions, oh you can’t do this, you can’t do that, it’s the Sabbath, it’s Sunday.
The restrictions are about clearing away non-essential tasks so we can BENEFIT from God’s GOODNESS. All the things that keep us busy are like that invasive vine, kudzu. Kudzu grows everywhere, and chokes the life out of other vegetation. Our busy lives can endanger our relationship with God, like kudzu. Sunday is for clearing out the business and giving God, TIME.
SOMEHOW, as only humans can do – this lovely day instead of being ENJOYED – became a BURDEN.
The Sabbath’s meaning as a day of healing – got LOST.
Taking a rest to let the body recharge. Sabbath or Sunday is time to remember we belong to GOD.
In the old days, most people lived on farms and kept cows and sheep, people kept the Sabbath as a way to remind themselves – we are not beasts.
We are not animals, who have to keep going 7 days a week!
Now in the technological age, we have to remind ourselves – we are not robots.
We are not COGS in the machinery of the corporate world.
We are NOT energizer bunnies who have to keep going, and going and . . . until we drop.
For almost a hundred years, people have been lamenting how we have been turning into cogs in the machinery.
Charlie Chaplin in his film, Modern Times, from 1936 gets chewed up in the gears, the gears turning faster and faster and Charlie having to work faster and faster.
God, Yahweh, wants his beloved people to KNOW they are not beasts of burden, we are not COGS in the machinery.
We are the people God delights in.
God wants us to use the day to REFLECT on who we are and whose we are.
In the book of Deuteronomy, the Sabbath was to be extended even to the slaves of the Israelites. Even THEIR humanity was recognized. I would imagine everyone would want to be work for the Israelites knowing you could count on getting ONE day off every week.
Do you think the Assyrians or Hittites gave THEIR staff a day off?
Remember what is written in the gospel of Mark 2:27 “The sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. So, the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath.”
The leader of the synagogue is about to see that JESUS, Son of Man is LORD of the sabbath.
TODAY Jesus’ heart is touched when he looks at this woman who has been bent over for 18 years.
In today’s gospel story the woman is silent until she ISN’T.
Jesus delivers the woman of an evil spirit, and she BURSTS into PRAISE like a bird set free from her cage.
We see she doesn’t have to prove her faith. It’s enough that she is a daughter of Abraham.
That alone makes her worthy.
This daughter of Abraham, bent over,
is SEEN by JESUS and with this healing, brought back into the community.
Jesus SEES her.
What is the proper response to healing? It’s PRAISE.
Jesus delivers the woman, heals her, and she stands erect praising God.
Jesus is showing us now THAT’S a real SABBATH!
A REAL Sabbath/ real Sunday is when we PRAISE God.
It’s when there’s HEALING.
Notice the synagogue ruler does not praise God anywhere in this gospel.
The proper use of the Sabbath is to PRAISE GOD; he wants to control Jesus’ movements, yet what kind of ruler of the synagogue NEGLECTS its central purpose?
We don’t see him having a change of heart – first he opposes Jesus’ use of the Sabbath, but then we would like to see him break down in praise when he sees the woman standing straight for the first time in 18 years.
He disappears from the text as this woman stands straight and PRAISES GOD!
A STRAIGHT BACK!
This is a reason to SING!
This daughter of Abraham breaks out into PRAISE like a bird that had been shut up in a cage and at last released into PURE FREEDOM.
She breaks out into PRAISE like a bee that remembers at last it should BUZZ!
She breaks out into PRAISE like a cricket that can at last CHIRP!
We are made to praise God. When GOD RESTORES us – we PRAISE God.
We PRAISE God, as the LIBERATOR in our lives.
When God delivers us from the power of Satan, we PRAISE God. We CHEER God!
GOD CLEARLY is in charge!
Praising God should be the first thing that comes to our minds but it doesn’t.
Birds that sing are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Imagine birds that don’t sing. We’d be very disturbed.
Bees that buzz are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Imagine bees that don’t buzz. We’d be troubled.
Crickets that sing are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Imagine crickets that don’t chirp. We’d be consulting the scientists.
It would upset the natural order of things.
The birds, the bees, the crickets all praise God when they sing, buzz and chirp.
But us – do WE praise God like the birds, bees and crickets like it’s the most natural thing?
We know we don’t.
Something is wrong – and we don’t consult anyone – we just go our merry way as if everything is fine.
Jesus is showing us THIS, THIS woman standing erect for the first time in 18 years and praising God – this is what a Sabbath looks like.
This was a woman of deep faith despite her disability, despite Satan having a GRIP on her.
Satan hasn’t affected her faith. Evil has her body, but it doesn’t have her soul.
Evil has her outer shell, but can’t touch her inside.
Now imagine if WE use the Sabbath for rest. NOT for more errands, more tasks.
Imagine if we use it to praise God by giving the LORD some room, inviting the LORD in
It’s harder than it looks. Why is it easier to keep going?
Why not give over our lives to God and let GOD restore us?
Back in the 90s the city of New Rochelle could see that families were overscheduled.
Kids were playing or practicing soccer 7 days a week.
Families had no time to sit down for a meal together, not ONCE during the week.
So, the city decided they would not schedule any games or practices for the students on Sundays.
Let it be a day when families can sit down, catch up, eat, play board games. Relax.
The families were grateful not to be constantly running.
It was so humane.
These families didn’t see this day of restrictions.
They knew it was a day of FREEDOM. Freedom from running around
Why can’t we do MORE of that?
Imagine if WE could. How PROFOUND a change that would be for all of us.
THAT’S what God has been trying to tell us for millennia: we are more than our schedules
Sunday is a day to REMEMBER to taste and see how good God is. The GOD who GIVES us our freedom.
That ALL freedom comes from GOD.
I thank you, Lord for the gift of the Sabbath/for Sunday.
Let us receive it as the gift that it is.
Let us remember to PRAISE you as we ought.
Let us think how we can make Sunday a true day of rest, giving God the gift of our time.
Lord, you have so many gifts to GIVE us, give us NEW HEARTS to receive them.
In Jesus name we pray.