Keeping Sabbath these days is not the tradition it used to be. I can remember the debates over Sunday Shopping would happen and where or not the big local Mall “orchard Park” for those who know Kelowna, would be open for business. There are many in our communities who don’t know what a Sabbath is and why it is important to keep it. And you think that I am going to tell you next that it is important to go to Church for worship – after all it is my job as clergy, right?
Sabbath is not just about putting bums in pews. In fact, it is about coming to worship on the Day of the Resurrection to meet with Jesus and with the rest of the community of Christ so that we can be refreshed. In the ancient world, the seventh day – the last day of the week – was the day of rest. In ancient Israel I was meant not only to concentrate on God but also to remember what as a people, they once were. They were slaves. Sabbath was and is meant to remind the people not to act or to be like the Egyptians were to the Israelites, when the Israelites were slaves.
Sabbath was a gift of rest – a gift to deal with the ongoing curse of labour because of the Fall and the loss of Eden. Sabbath was to bring refuge to those who labour and were heavy ladened. It is not an accident that many of the poorest people in this country are having to work two and three jobs because they must make ends meet and to maintain a kind of life style. The world in rush to accumulate wealth, position and power, denies the working poor their sabbath and we all suffer for it.
Sabbath is about enjoying God and the relationship we have with him and then to be able to so the same with one another. The Church is one of the last bastions of community. Many within the Church think that the community is about to be lost because we are in the throws of generational change. Here is a reality that we need to grapple with. We need to begin to reverse the effects of the secular revival of the 1960’s and 70’s when we began to believe it was all about us and what we want. We are only interested in ourselves and our own opinions. We need people who are going to begin to think about someone other than themselves.
Then we need to teach those same people what commitment is and how to make it. There is to much in our society that belittles and degrades commitment to the point where it is easy to make. So, when it comes to Baptism, we have people who wish to have the sacrament without the training and the commitment to faith and community that Baptism necessitates. We are raising a generation of people who do not know what it means to be committed to anther person for anything. Today’s younger people, for example, do not know what it means to be married… for as long as you shall both live instead of for as long as you both shall love. Commitment is more about what you feel then what you say or do. Love one person in Holy Matrimony is not just about one person it is about being family and community, including the Church. People fail these days to think about the wider picture and think (selfishly) that its about them and what they want, and it is okay to go and get it no matter what one must do to get it.
Sabbath is about knocking do the idols we have allowed to be put up in our lives. It is about getting to see the bigger picture again so that we can be able to carry out what it is that God asks of us. After all, what is more important: keeping rules to keep some people happy or proclaiming forgiveness to people so that they can be made right with God and with neighbour? Our Sunday School Potluck last Sunday is case and point: did we feed the poor? Did we offer help? Did we offer hope?
We, as the Body of Christ need to offer the plain truth to the people around us so that they can see the reality of the life of Christ in us. Our common life needs to evidence Christ’s life within us and between us, living out in every day life, the dying and rising of Christ. And we need to do so that we can discover that we are not abandoned to our own devices but rather that we are drawn further into the sustaining life of God. That we are raised up and sent back, just as Jesus is, to those who need to see and to hear the message of the kingdom.
Want to see God at work in your life, in your church – take a break from the pattern and make friends. In this way we do not miss out on things, the blessings that God has for us as we rest in him.