Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sunday Sermon Notes - 4.29.07

When's the last time you observed/kept/remembered the Sabbath Day and kept it holy?

Twice in the Torah we are given the Ten Words (or commandments), within which we find the invitation, the instruction, the imperative to live according a Sabbath-rhythm in life. For whatever reason, growing up, thoughts about the Sabbath Day tended to dredge up feelings of restriction, legalism, boredom, etc. But now, amidst a busy life, the Sabbath looks different to me.

Here is the fourth commandment/word - translated in The Message version (copied/pasted from; it is found in the book of the Exodus, and the book of Deuteronomy:

Exodus 20:8-11
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Work six days and do everything you need to do.
But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God.
Don't do any work
—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town.
For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
No working on the Sabbath; keep it holy just as God, your God, commanded you.
Work six days, doing everything you have to do,
but the seventh day is a Sabbath, a Rest Day—no work:
not you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, your ox, your donkey (or any of your animals), and not even the foreigner visiting your town.
That way your servants and maids will get the same rest as you.
Don't ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength.
That's why God, your God, commands you to observe the day of Sabbath rest.

Did you note the similarities and the differences? Both accounts note that the Sabbath/Seventh day is Holy - which means set apart, sacred, belonging to God, different. Both accounts require cessation from work, the original Hebrew uses the word labor - a reference to slavelabor, out of which they were redeemed. But note what is different: the reasons for why they should remember/observe/guard/keep God's Day holy. In the Exodus account, God uses his Creation work as the reason; in the Deuteronomy God uses his Exodus work as the reason. We cease to work so that we might remember our Creator, and we cease from our slavelabor to observe our Redeemer. God's Creation work was a delight, pure joy, a ton of fun; and yet it had boundaries - there needed to be a season/time for creation, and then it was time to stop. God's Redemption is from the unending yoke of sin, represented in the story of the Exodus, the release from a enslaved way of life to one of freedom, where you work for the Creator of all that is good, true, beautiful and free; not laboring and working for the Slavemaster of the Darkness.

Your work can be good, you still need to stop and remember the Creator; your work can be awful, and you need to stop and observe your Redeemer. And when you stop, not only are you creating space to remember and thank God for his good gifts in your life, you are also able to make space for the people God brings into your life.

I remember stories of how Christians would sit on a bench all Sunday afternoon, excluding all fun and play out of the day. The kind of work that prompts this Sabbath day to play and pray is God's playful work of Creation and his prayerfilled work of Redemption. We find new energy to Create God's way when we live by the Sabbath, and we find new energy to Redeem God's way when we live by the Sabbath. And since there are people that God wants us to be connected with - for Creation and Redemption purposes, for playing and praying, we need to make some changes in how we schedule our space.

I want to play with my family and friends. I want a whole day spent celebrating God and this life He's graciously lavished on us with fellow believers and neighbors around a table.

What do you want?

Maybe more importantly, what does God want?

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