Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24, 2009 "Shabbat"

Jeremiah 17: 24 “But if you listen to me, says the LORD, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but keep the sabbath day holy and do no work on it, 25 then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall be inhabited forever.”

When my brother Peter moved back to the States after a number of years in Israel, I asked him one day what he missed most. Without a pause he said “I miss Shabbat.” (Sabbath) One of my favorite books of the last few years is Lauren Winter's "Mudhouse Sabbath". I think we Christians need to listen to the centuries of wisdom about Shabbat from our Jewish grandparents.

When God gives the 10 Commandments to Moses, the fourth is to keep Sabbath. When Jesus heals on the Sabbath, he does not mean not to keep Sabbath, but not to over legalize it. In fact he says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

God intends that we keep a time of rest, of worship, of family. Working too many hours, too many days, too many weeks, too many months, with no breaks is not a badge of honor. We have made it so, but God intended a different rhythm to life.

The first people to observe a 7 day week seem to be the Jewish people. The first writing to set the week at 7 days belongs to the Jewish people.

Weeks in the ancient world varied from 4 days to 10 days. In the New World before the Conquest, they were between 10 and 13 days.

In the lesson, God speaks to Jeremiah and says if the people will stop and keep Shabbat, then the destruction coming will not occur.

Could it be that when we don’t keep Sabbath, work and money cease to be tools, and become gods?

I have deliberately tried to slow down this Lent. My blood pressure is lower. I enjoy reading the scripture, rather than racing through it. I actually listen when people are speaking without thinking of what I am going to say next. I pray with thoughtfulness.

We need to learn to keep Sabbath, to start the night before, to begin slowing down. It doesn’t affect God, but it keeps us whole.

Slowing down in Christ. Amen.

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