The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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A Forced Sabbath

Geography influences your reaction to snow.  I doubt that people living in northern regions or at higher elevations have the same reaction as many of us in the south.  We start with a milk and bread panic.  Everyone goes to the grocery store, even if the snow is only projected to last one day.  We stock up for a single snow fall like pioneers used to stock up for winter.

But once we arrive at home, the groceries are put away, and the snow starts to cover the ground, we shut down.    We have less snow removal equipment and more unpredictable roads than in other parts of the country, so we stay home for a while.  The initial snow is pure white and  muffles all sound.  Everyone else is also at home; there are no expectations to return phone calls or to respond to emails.   we can take a deep breath and rest for a moment in this weather-forced Sabbath.

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses repeats the commandments given at Sinai, including a refresher course on the Sabbath.  As he teaches the children of Israel, Moses recalls that they were once slaves.  He says to them, “Remember you were once slaves and remember that God has ordained the Sabbath Day as a day of rest.  He has given this day to you who had no choice when you worked or how long you worked.  No longer is your life all work, uninterrupted by rest.  God has given you the Sabbath as a gift.”   Their former taskmasters gave them forced labor; their new Master gives them rest.

Do you remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees who complained about the way he and his disciples observed the Sabbath?  Jesus said, “The Sabbath was not made just so you could observe and obey it, but the Sabbath was made for you.”  He is reinforcing the idea of Sabbath as a gift.

Let’s imagine that somebody gave you a very expensive piece of clothing as a gift —an expensive cashmere sweater.  Would you ruin the sweater by taking it out and washing the car with it?  Of course not.  What if somebody gave you a signed, first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird for Christmas?  Harper Lee’s signature is one of the most coveted among book collectors.  Would you tear out a few pages of the book to use to start a fire in the fireplace?  Would any of us you ruin a special gift? Of course not.  I wonder why we ignore the gift of rest God has worked into every single week of our lives.  What a shame that snow has to shut down our town for me to take a Sabbath.


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