Sunday, June 03, 2018

Sabbath 2018

Sabbath 2018

What is the Sabbath? It consists of Worship, Rest, and Liberation.

         Sabbath is for Worship.
         Surely there are other obligations, other enjoyments as well, that you could partake in today. But, by saying noto those things, you are unmasking them as potential idols,
as created things that attempt to seduce us into a routine that tries to go ‘round the Creator and colonize our life with a mono-culture of monotony,
it doesn’t allow us to look up for a moment and reflect, and say “Oh, Wow!”
         Along those same lines, Worship is not just showing up.
         Luther was once walking to church to prepare for worship and he came across a peasant who overindulged the night before and woke up in a pig trough cuddled up against a sow, so hung over he couldn’t make it to church to hear the Word of God
—and seeing this Luther reflected, 
“and yetthose who come to worship and neither learn nor retain the promises of Christ are no better off.”
They too have broken the sabbath. 
-Or to put it another way, sitting in a pew no more makes you a Christian than sitting in a garage makes you a car.
         Worshipping together, keeping Sabbath through worship, breaks up our routine of work work work, or even, if we’re a luckier sort, work, play, work, play… so that we can find an opportunity to inject Holiness into our weekly cycle through public worship
… This worship is holy because:
 we Gather amongst God’s Holy People,
hear God’s HolyWord,
Receive God’s HolySacraments,
and through song and prayer praise God, who is Holy
… I know I’m preaching to the choir, being that you all are here, but it is worth noting, by being here fully present, you are doing something good and holy.
         Sabbath is for Rest.
We live in a 24/7 culture…
-The average American works a month of overtime each year.
-Globalization has caused many people to have to be awake for meetings across a plethora of time zones.
-Thanks to smart phones we’re always available, and expected to respond immediately.
-News is no longer consumed by morning paper and 5pm around the TV, but with breaking news every few moments, buzzing in our pockets until we become no different from Pavlov’s dog that salivated every time it heard a bell. (Pavlov’s cat)
Think about it… it used to be you knew if someone was an American because when you asked them, “How are you doing?” they would respond, “Fine, thanks.”Instead of talking about their physical maladies and emotional ups and downs, like they do in the rest of the world.
But now, our response is typically, “I’m busy, but what else is new?”
Busyness is how our culture measures worth. (Preacher, heal thyself)
But a Sabbath’s rest tells us something else. We’re both moreand lessimportant than we think.
-On one hand, God delights in us not because of what we produce, but because he declares us good! We are more than we produce.
-On the other hand, guess what, the world will turn without you for a day
rest, take time to let there be a day that simply is Good… for nothing.

Sabbath is for Liberation.
As in Jesus’ day, there is a danger to the Sabbath. We might be seduced into saying, “I went to Church, and I rested… so what, if I didn’t let those around me do the same.”
But it cannot be so. Essential to Sabbath is a leveling of all people
—didn’t you notice in scripture Sabbath included slaves and sojourners (immigrant) and even critters! As Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “Sabbath suspends our subtle and not so subtle ways of dominating one another—when a Walmart cashier and a bank president are both lying on a picnic blanket at the park, you can’t tell them apart.”…Sabbath must be for everyone, or it is for no one.
We’ve been freed and called to open our eyes for opportunities to love, to go out of our way to liberate others as a response to the restful righteousness given to us by God.

Sabbath is for Liberation, Rest, and Worship.
And that raises the question how can we do Sabbath here today, things are a little different than they were in Moses’ time, and Jesus’ time, and even the 1990’s?
         Here are a few potential Sabbath practices:

Sabbath is for All:
-The Church can not be an inward-looking club with unspoken rules that make it awkward for outsiders to hear God’s Holy promises.
-A couple of you give rides to people who no longer can get to worship on their own—thank God for that.
-Here is a simple, but challenging one—invite people to worship!
-Go to your calendar app on your phone and make sure Sunday is the firstday of the week, that reminds us that Sabbath is a gift, not some sort of reward for a grueling week of work—it is Grace in time.
-Practice personal blue laws—remember those, Blue Laws, everything closed on Sunday so everyone was welcome to practice Sabbath. For example, I don’t buy anything on Amazon on Thursday or Friday, so the carrier won’t have to deliver packages on Saturday or Sunday.
-Once a week look at the world around you with Sabbath eyes, part of God’s holy time is spending time in acts of kindness and justice.

Also, these days, Sabbath will be fluid:
-In our society plenty of people have to decide between keeping Sabbath or keeping their job. We need to do church in a way that God’s people, Word, and sacraments are available to folk in these situations too.
-Similarly, those of you who have to make this choice should try to take mini-sabbaths.
So you find out on Tuesday the computer algorithm that decides when you work, has you off from Wednesday evening to Thursday afternoon. Block out a few hours in that time and rest, read a little bible, notice the needs of your neighbor.
-One simple way to slow down the world, is to shut off our screens, to take one day a week to simply not go on social media, or put away our smart devices, or evenavoid allscreens.

Those are just a few ideas, but I’ve given all of you two “Sabbath” cards, parodies of “Get out of Jail Free” cards.
 I encourage you to use them in the coming weeks to explore and experiment with ways of practicing sabbath.
Do this so that you might notice more fully that the Lord of the Sabbath has drawn near to you. 
That Jesus,
the center of our worship,
the one in whom we rest,
the Lord who has liberated us from all foes
—is right there, waiting for you to take the time to look up and notice, to be held by the holy time that is Sabbath. A+A