The building may have been closed this past week, but I hope you had some quality time with God in his Word this week. We are currently in the middle of a Luke class on Wednesday nights. I want to share with you some reflections from one of the members of the class on Luke 6:1-11 as she has grappled with God’s idea of taking a regular Sabbath, that is, a day of rest.
Dear Chapel Hill family,
My name is Tamara Cross and my family and I have been attending church here regularly since Easter Sunday of last year. This is my reflection on one thing that affected me most strongly from class 2 weeks ago.
Luke 6 begins with two incidents where Jesus was criticized for things he did during Sabbath that weren’t in keeping with Mishnah Shabat, or Sabbath law. Pastor Megan explained that he wasn’t devaluing, disrespecting or doing away with the Sabbath, but was trying to demonstrate God’s true desires regarding it (see Matthew 12:7 from Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”). She asserted that the Sabbath was to build us up, bring healing and rest and was given as a gift, not a burden. That it was made for man and not the other way around (see Mark 2:27).
It seemed significant and no coincidence that my husband had mentioned Sabbath several times in the previous months, stating that he believed it might be important to consider keeping it in a more traditional way, instead of just assuming that attending church on Sunday morning was adequate. (At this point let me just jump in and reassure the more cerebral readers – I am aware the Sabbath was originally Saturday, but that’s a topic for another time.) When he had shared the thought with me before, I hadn’t ignored him, but it didn’t penetrate deeply until Megan read it out loud and gave us understanding. Sometimes it has to be “…precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:10), before I get it.
Four days later, on Sunday afternoon, our family (led by my foolishness and wishful-thinking) decided to take a stab at Sabbath rest, but had done NO preparation for it. I know, I know… We tripped, fell, got wrapped around the axle and run over. A week passed and the time drew near again. (Not desiring to resurrect and keep “The Law”, we hadn’t made a list of rules about what activities we could and couldn’t engage in, leaving that to each individual member to navigate prayerfully and honestly before God.) Our daughter reported that she felt it had gone well but that it could be improved upon, and compared it to trying a new recipe – it hadn’t come out exactly as hoped, but was worth modifying the ingredients and trying again.
My thought was, well, that it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if it went well or poorly, up down or sideways. Though I admit I don’t fully understand it, I believe it is important to God and something He wants us to obey Him in, even though our gestures are awkward and capabilities limited at this point. I am grateful that we began at all, and that we will continue. I think He honors even clumsy (which is different than careless) efforts. He sees our hearts up here on the hilltop in Bremerton, and our hearts tell Him, “Thank You for this gift that we didn’t know You had given us, and sorry it took so long for us to notice it. We are grateful to You because we know You only give good gifts and Your requirements are always born of Your wisdom and Your kindness. We love You so, and we’ll talk to You soon. Amen.”
Consider giving Sabbath a try this weekend. Try clearing two hours of your schedule and only attempt to be with God. Take a leisurely walk in the woods and admire God’s created beauty. Spent two hours studying God’s word. (We will be in Luke 10-11 this Wednesday.) Enjoy playing with your child outside and think about how God is your Father. God wants you to be with him. He wants you to rest. Give it a try! Sabbath is his gift for you.
This is how I spent an extended time of Sabbath this week in New Hampshire.