Saturday 5th September 2020
Today’s reflection, Sabbath, is contributed by Kirsty and based on Isaiah 58 and Luke 6; we conclude with the prayer of the week.
13 If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. 2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful[c] on the sabbath?” 3 Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” 5 Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
I am Lord of the Sabbath.
When do you feel closest to God?
For the Israelites, the Sabbath was a day set aside to be in close communion with God; to focus on God without the heavy toil which the other six days brought. It was God’s gracious provision to them. A day, as is written in the ten commandments, ‘set aside for the Lord, blessed and hallowed by him’ (Exodus 20).
At times when the Israelites felt close to God, this time was much anticipated and treasured. ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God’ (Psalm 84).
But then, at other times, the Sabbath was seen as an inconvenience; a hoop to be jumped through to prove identity as one of God’s chosen people, as we see at the end of Nehemiah, or in Obadiah. By Jesus’s time, the Sabbath had become part of the identity of a Jew. In the days of Roman occupation, they’d lost their language, there’d been no prophets for 300 years; 39 rules and regulations were constructed prohibiting various activities on the Sabbath, to try and preserve Jewish identity.
When we are blessed with time, the tendency for many is to fill it. To fill it with jobs, to get ahead on the to-do list, or to set targets to achieve.
The thing is, work and jobs can become all too important, and hide the fact that every blessing comes from God; it is he alone who creates, saves and sanctifies.
So, instead, we could create that space that’s needed to encounter God and to build our relationship with him. To let him speak in the silence, the chance encounter with others, the time spent in fellowship with others, or through nature. To look for and cherish those moments when we feel close to God. To focus on God as the source of all blessing.
As schools return, church services start and many ‘normal activities’ resume; albeit in a different shape; for many, life has become busier. Sometimes setting aside time for God can seem like a hoop to jump through, or something that can be squeezed when the jobs list gets longer. Sometimes it’s something which we rush in order to get onto those important tasks.
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Let’s not let our traditions, expectations, or indeed any human constructs get in the way of our chance to delight in him. Let’s set aside time for God, and in doing so, put him as Lord over all our important jobs, tasks and worries. He will bless that time, and everything else will follow.
Prayer of the week
God of constant mercy,
who sent your Son to save us:
remind us of your goodness,
increase your grace within us,
that our thankfulness may grow,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.