URC Daily Devotion 11th October

John 5: 9-18

At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.  Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.’ But he answered them, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Take up your mat and walk.” ’ They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Take it up and walk”?’ Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

Reflection

Do you remember wearing your best clothes to church: not being able to play with your friends on Sundays? Do you remember the furore over shops opening on Sundays and the whole ‘Keep Sunday special’ initiative? Sundays have, historically, been special in the Christian tradition as the seventh day on which God rested.  But it hasn’t always been so!

The Early Church, consisting of Jewish people,  would have initially kept to Saturday as the day of rest – as Jewish people still do.   In a bid to define themselves as different, and to shake off some of the Jewish customs, the holy day moved to Sunday, the first day of the week and the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.  

In today’s reading we have Jesus being condemned for healing a man on the Sabbath.  Yet we know God does not choose days and times to act or not act: God with us is 24/7.  Jesus was turning the established order upside down with his actions and words, unsettling those in power in the Temple.  What was most important the rule or the man being healed? His healing on the Sabbath was, to them, Law breaking. And they were determined for him to adhere to it.

Sabbath as a concept is important. Whilst I struggle with condemning people for not keeping Sunday holy, I do think the idea of Sabbath is important. Where do we get our time of refreshment? Where do we set aside time for family or friends or to engage in a hobby or passion? Where do we stop and make time just to be?  If every day is the same then we risk not seeing the special times when they occur.  If there is never a time set aside that enables us to focus on: God;  our relationship with God; our part in a worshipping community;  our lives and our endeavours; if we never make a conscious effort to put back in some of the emotion and love we give out then we are cheating ourselves. We are not looking after ourselves – physically or spiritually –  and we will not be at our best.  Our relationships will suffer.  When we hear Jesus turning the accepted order upside down, and challenging the status quo, we know that is our calling today.  It also means that we are called to care for ourselves too. May we never forget it as we seek to follow and to respond. And may we never be afraid of challenging the status quo if it enables God to be more clearly seen by those around us!

 

Do you remember wearing your best clothes to church: not being able to play with your friends on Sundays? Do you remember the furore over shops opening on Sundays and the whole ‘Keep Sunday special’ initiative? Sundays have, historically, been special in the Christian tradition as the seventh day on which God rested.  But it hasn’t always been so!

The Early Church, consisting of Jewish people,  would have initially kept to Saturday as the day of rest – as Jewish people still do.   In a bid to define themselves as different, and to shake off some of the Jewish customs, the holy day moved to Sunday, the first day of the week and the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.  

In today’s reading we have Jesus being condemned for healing a man on the Sabbath.  Yet we know God does not choose days and times to act or not act: God with us is 24/.  Jesus was turning the established order upside down with his actions and words, unsettling those in power in the Temple.  What was most important the rule or the man being healed? His healing on the Sabbath was, to them, Law breaking. And they were determined for him to adhere to it.

Sabbath as a concept is important. Whilst I struggle with condemning people for not keep Sunday holy, I do think the idea of Sabbath is important. Where do we get our time of refreshment? Where do we set aside time for family or friends or to engage in a hobby or passion? Where do we stop and make time just to be?  If every day is the same then we risk not seeing the special times when they occur.  If there is never a time set aside that enables us to focus on: God;  our relationship with God; our part in a worshipping community;  our lives and our endeavours; if we never make a conscious effort to put back in some of the emotion and love we give out then we are cheating ourselves. We are not looking after ourselves – physically or spiritually –  and we will not be at our best.  Our relationships will suffer.  When we hear Jesus turning the accepted order upside down, and challenging the status quo, we know that is our calling today.  It also means that we are called to care for ourselves too. May we never forget it as we seek to follow and to respond. And may we never be afraid of challenging the status quo if it enables God to be more clearly seen by those around us!

 

Prayer

Gracious God,
Help us to follow your faithfully,
Seeking to be your people:
Loving others, showing care and compassion and walking in your way.
But help us also to look after ourselves
As we journey on and to value who we are.
Help us to make Sabbath moments in each week
So that we can just ‘be’ in your presence and find renewal and refreshment for
the continuing journey.
Amen.

Today’s Writer

The Rev’d Jenny Mills is Minister at Newport Pagnell URC and West End United Church, Wolverton.

Bible Version

 

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.