One sabbath while Jesus was going through the cornfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ Jesus answered, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?’ Then he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.’
What’s so special about Sunday? And should it be Saturday or Sunday as the Sabbath?
For those of us somewhat long in years, we remember when the world slowed down on Sundays, no shops, no entertainment, sometimes no fun! But society has changed. We live in a 24/7 world – nothing stops, and we have to rush around just to keep up. So why do we need a Sabbath? Surely our time is our own – to use as we see fit and if that means using Sunday as a way of getting a headstart on Monday, then what’s wrong with that? The trouble is we love boundaries, we love to know who is in and who is not, and largely the reason is so that we can measure ourselves against other folk. And sometimes the rule-making gets out of hand and there’s a feeling that the only way to protect people from doing the wrong thing is to make rules and laws against it – and that was what the Pharisees and their 613 laws of Moses were trying to do.
Apparently Billy Graham once said, “Jesus tells us it is OK to help our ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath. But, if your ox gets in the ditch every Sabbath, you need to either get rid of the ox or fill up the ditch.”
God gave us the Sabbath, a day of rest, a day to spend with God, and the gift is not for God’s sake, but for our sake (see Mark 2:27). We need time away from ‘work’, time to enjoy the world we live in, time set aside to enjoy being with the world’s creator and receiving God’s blessing.
Does it have to be Sunday – well that’s a debate for another day!
Creator God, we thank you that you gave us the Sabbath, a day to rest from the everyday, a day to spend with you. We are sorry that we find so much else that ‘needs to be done’ in that short window in our week. Bless each one of us but bless, especially, those who do not have the luxury of control over their own lives as they battle for survival against violence, hardship and danger. Amen.
The Rev’d Sheila Coop, Minister at Macedonia URC, Failsworth