The sabbath was made for humankind… What a privilege! What a gift! It’s one we don’t always take advantage of but more often than not – we take for granted. We tend to limit ourselves of its opportunities by thinking we have only one day. Yet if sabbath was made for humankind what’s most important is that we use this precious gift, that we take this time out for God, giving our heart, soul and mind to this opportunity to breathe in and listen for love to speak to our heart, then breathe out and guide us towards another day.
…and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. …Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ Luke 6:1-11
Throughout culture and society, laws were meant to establish order and unify a people, not to separate and divide. I think without question today, the laws of the Ten Commandments are said to be cross-cultural in that they are adhered to in both Jewish and Christian faiths. The first part (1-4) emphasizes our relationship with God and the second part (6-10) emphasizes our relationship with one another. But early on and as society shifts and changes, human precepts have been integrated into God’s Laws. At times human precepts have rendered a simple yet poignant message of love God and love neighbor as self to become a burdensome process. Some say there are times when one must override the process in order to take action and ask for forgiveness later, because not to do so would be harmful, destructive or both. Of course this isn’t done without risk, but through Christ we know today that to love is to risk. The whole and undivided truth about God’s law is that people are more important than the process, which is why forgiveness is so important. When the Pharisees confront Jesus as to the disciples actions under the Law, Jesus challenges their precepts, assuring us that God’s law leaves room for us to do what is good, what is right and what is holy. As society continues to change, that challenge will continue to be ours, remembering that as Christians our goal is to help bring others to salvation and not to destroy. Further, when we respond to that challenge with what is good, right and holy, through Christ, God has already taken on the risk.
After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. Luke 6:1-11
Taking time to honor Sabbath is critical in this journey and should be an act of our will. One Advent season I had been completely busy; right up to day we packed the car to drive across the state to visit my oldest son’s godfather for the Christmas holiday. Four hours into the trip the pain in my back began at the first rest stop. I could barely move. I survived the nine-hour trip. However, as I finally allowed my body to rest I was in excruciating pain. Although I had pneumonia, I didn’t have to stay over night at the hospital. It would be one month before my energy level was restored to full strength, but I got the rest I needed. Only then did I more fully understand the importance of taking care of the self: physically, spiritually and emotionally. Some of us can get by on 4 hours while others need as much as 8-10 hours of sleep, but sleep and rest are two different states. Sleep involves immobilization of the body. Rest is separation (setting aside) from physiological, emotional, or mental activity, in order that one may relax (calm down, unwind, let go) and be restored. Too often we don’t remember regular Sabbath and keep it Holy. Take the time to be still, for in that stillness God speaks (if we are willing to hear) and his Spirit will nourish and restore the soul.
Psalm 23 He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside the still waters; he restores my soul.
Psalm 92 – A Song for the Sabbath Day
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.