Collect of the Day
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scripture Reading of the Day, Luke 6:1-11
1 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 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." 6 On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7 The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8 Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come and stand here." He got up and stood there. 9 Then 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?" 10 After looking around at all of them, he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
When I was a teen-ager (back in the mid-1950's!) a classmate of mine had a most unusual family. They could do no work, they could not participate in activities outside their home, they could only travel to and from church, which was a requirement for the family. I never thought of my classmate as being strange. Indeed, she was a bright, energetic and well-liked girl. Her family, though, insisted they "keep the Sabbath holy". I was never sure if she was being protected or punished!
Today's gospel reading addresses this 4th commandment edict: "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." Jesus turned this around, gave new definition to the ancient Hebraic law. He responded to those who challenged his "Sabbath actions": "I put it to you: is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?"
Where does all of this leave us? What do we learn about "keeping the Sabbath holy" from the example of my classmate's family, from Jesus' "Sabbath activity"? What importance is a "holy Sabbath" in our lives? Would focus on "holy" things, taking time for quieting and slowing the routine of frantic activity - physical, mental and emotional - enrich our lives? Is it possible that keeping a time of "sabbath", a time of intentional spiritual focus could lead to "perfect wisdom and spiritual understanding, the fullest knowledge of God's will. . . a life worthy of the Lord, a life acceptable to him in all its aspects, bearing fruit in every kind of good work and growing in knowledge of God" (see Colossians 1:9-14 for Paul's prayer).
Perhaps we could have a time of "sabbath" in every day, a time of holy quiet, a time of listening and resting in God's healing love.
thoughts of a fellow traveler - DMc