From the Gospel of Mark 2:23-27:
One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.”
Author Wayne Muller writes (Sabbath – Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives. Bantam Books:1999)
“Sarah was raised by her Jewish grandparents. She remembers the Sabbath as a day on which she couldn’t turn on any lights, see her friends, or go outside and play. On the Sabbath she felt trapped in a dreary world that felt dark and punitive. David, raised in a strict Christian household, recalls Sundays as being similarly bleak. “We were not allowed to do anything fun – no games, no card playing, not even baseball. All we could do was sit inside, usually with my grandparents, and eat, and talk or just do nothing.”
[Both Jewish teachings and the teachings of Jesus] clearly warn against the tendency toward legalism, which suffocates our joy, and drains the spontaneity and passion out of this gratuitous day of delight.”
This week, Week 4, visit http://www.jewfaq.org/shabbatref.htm to learn more about the origin and observance of Sabbath in the Jewish tradition.
1) How are Christian practices the same? Different?
2) How do the Sunday traditions of your childhood differ from today? If you are a young person, engage in a conversation with an older Christian. Compare how you spend your Sundays today with someone who grew up in the middle of the twentieth century.
3) As you have explored and attempted to keep sabbath in your own way this Lent, what “restrictions” have you incorporated (e.g., no shopping, computer use, driving, etc.)? How do they hinder or help you to find delightful rest in the Lord?
This week record your responses in a journal and, if you wish, share some of your thoughts and experiences with others on the Pastor’s Blog on www.mysticucc.org.
This Lent…give it a rest.