Lectionary 27B (Pr 22)
October 3, 2021
Grace Lutheran Church
Genesis 1 (selected verses)-2:3
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
Grace to you and peace from God and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please pray with me. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Over this green season of summer, of the time after Pentecost, in the church’s liturgical year, we consider the life of the church and our lives as disciples of Jesus. We’ve thought about what it means to be disciples – how we are called to a life of active love of Jesus, not merely bystanders and observers; we’ve considered how it is that every day we walk wet in the waters of our baptisms, how we have been healed and are therefore called to participate in God’s healing action in the world; we’ve observed that in the kingdom of heaven things are upside down and backwards – so that the one who thinks themselves the greatest is actually least and how the least is the greatest in the kingdom; we are to be servants of all; and how each of us has a call on our lives, however big or small or changing that call may be.
Today we’re going to consider another aspect of our life as disciples –we are called to rest. In our everyday world of to-do lists and deadlines and expectations, in our society that seems to value busy-ness as a sign of personal importance, we as followers of Jesus are called to something different. We are called to rest. In today’s reading from Genesis we heard these words: On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. Note this –on the seventh day, God finished his work. Part of the work was to rest from it. Think about that. A task or work includes time to rest from its completion. Rest is not optional.
In fact, it is so important that it is included in the Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. The esteemed scholar Walter Brueggeman urges that we think about these not as a series of rules but rather as a proclamation in God’s own mouth of who God is and how God shall be practiced in the community of liberated slaves – today in a community of faith. Not rules – but gift for the relationships that we have with God and with one another as we live in the family of God, even today as disciples of Jesus.
It is often understood that these Ten can be divided into two parts – the first part dealing with our relationship with God and the second part dealing with our relationships with one another. So, hear these words from Exodus 20:
Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
This verse is a hinge verse between the two parts, the two Tablets as they are often called. And it actually connects the two. It is the longest commandment of the Ten, suggesting its importance. What does Sabbath look like. As we often think about it, Sabbath – for many of us “Sunday” -- is the day when we don’t go into our place of employment and usually ends up being the day on which we do all the work that we don’t otherwise get done during the week.
The first words of Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai were words that reminded the people of where they had been – they had been in Egypt, they were brick-makers, forced participants in the Pharaoh’s plan to build more and more buildings in which to store that which he coveted, that which he thought he needed, that of which there would never be enough. Try harder. Do better. Make more. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. And Repeat. And repeat. Work harder. Go gather your own straw. Get busy. Produce. Answer those emails. Get to it! Sound familiar? This is in striking contrast to the God who created all that is, all that is good. Because it shows no regard for those who are infirm, those who have retired from their vocational labor, those who are physically unable to work. All of these, are among those for whom Jesus had special care.
No God offers a different way – a way that recognizes that work is not the only way but that rest is an essential part of our life as disciples.