REMEMBER THE SABBATH
The Ten Commandments
And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday night and ends at sundown on Saturday. The Sabbath is based on Genesis 2:2. For six days God created the universe and all that was in it. On the seventh day, we are told in the story, “God rested.” I imagine God was just plain pooped out. It was a lot of work and God needed a break.
The whole point of the Jewish Sabbath is to take a break from hectic daily life, to rest, to pray and meditate.
As Christians we do not observe the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday), but instead worship and rest on the first day of the week (Sunday), the day Jesus Christ was raised from the dead
Once upon a time, a time I lived through as a child, Sunday was a unique day. Stores were closed. WalMart had yet to be invented. We spent time in church and with our families. Alas, those days have long passed.
I once preached a sermon in Portland about the “recovery of the Sabbath” for Christians, recommendations about things we could and could not do to observe a special and sacred time each Sunday. I quickly learned that I was swimming against the tide.
Today we have a sort of Sabbath forced upon us. Restaurants are closed, as are many stores. We couldn’t vacation in Las Vegas or Disney Land even if we wanted to.
It’s not the sort of Sabbath I envisioned when I preached that sermon so long ago. It’s not the Sabbath of Genesis 2 and Exodus 20.
But it is an opportunity for us to take this forced-upon quarantine to center down and look up–to pray that we might be more Christ-like now and when this virus ends, to read some Scripture, to call a friend who needs encouragement, and to be thankful for this wondrous “ sunshiney” day and the beauty all around us. We will need Sabbath when the virus runs it’s course, one day a week to watch what God is doing when we are not doing anything.
O Lord, on this day, the world is waiting, like a long winter hoping for spring, like a dry land awaiting rain. Still, quiet, in between a world hesitating, silent hope in a dark place. Lord, we give to you the times we have in own lives, where all we can do is wait, when all we hold is hope. We give you those times when all we have is faith in new life, new beginnings and heavens call. Be with all those who today wait in that cold, uncertain place. Hold them, keep them safe in your arms, resting in your promise of new life. Amen.