Friday, September 04, 2015

Faith Firmly Grounded

God has now reconciled you in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, am a minister.  Colossians 1:22-23
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”  Luke 6:3-5

I danced in the morning when the world was young 
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he

I danced for the scribes and the Pharisees
They wouldn't dance, they wouldn't follow me
I danced for the fishermen James and John
They came with me so the dance went on 
(“Lord of the Dance” by Sydney Carter)

St. Luke retells many of the same stories that we hear in the other two synoptic Gospels.  However, rather than ending stories with symbolic
parables left open to interpretation, Jesus ends these stories with definitive declarations.  After reading the Nazareth Manifesto from Isaiah in the temple, Jesus proclaimed, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Today, we hear another Great Proclamation:  “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

The apparent meaning overrules much of ancient Mosaic Law.  Jesus argues that satisfying human needs such as hunger and performing works of mercy take precedence even over the rules dictating how to commemorate the sacred sabbath rest.  The law was NEVER meant to keep hungry people hungry.  This also goes beyond the literal interpretation and the way of thinking at the time.  Jesus cannot profane the Sabbath.  Jesus is the Sabbath!

Jesus sees the Sabbath as a gift from God to humanity – something to be of service to us.[i]  The idea of the Sabbath to me is that’s when we are supposed to set aside everything that gets in the way and surrender our egos to God’s presence.  Jesus is that gift of God’s presence.

Why does this matter?  The Sabbath was everything to the Jewish people.  Life and worship revolved around preparing for the sundown and behavior that was reserved for the sabbath or forbidden during the Sabbath.  Now we learn that this peripatetic preacher equates himself with the sabbath.  A whole new life and world will emerge when this Proclamation sinks in. The Pharisees and scribes no longer call the shots.  Love calls the shots.  What Jesus said in the temple, on the plain, on the side of the mountain and on the banks of the river, brings new meaning and new life to his people. Without blemish.  Nothing comes in the way of this Word.  It is…Irreproachable.  Firmly Grounded.  Not shifting from hope.

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Him.  Not through the Pharisees.  Not through the Romans.  Not through the temple.  Not through the family.  Only through faith, firmly grounded in Jesus.

Is the Sabbath everything to us? The role of Great Proclaimer did not end on the Cross.  We are now the Sabbath-keepers (and lighthouse keepers).  St. Paul urges our obedience to Christ in faith and begins to point to his own role as minister, sufferer, and proclaim-er of this gospel.  Those roles now come to us.  As one writer put it:

In today’s society the Sabbath is hard to keep, because there are so many demands on our time, so many expectations on the part of others that we be available for them 24/7.  And the consequences of breaking the Sabbath appear to be small.  But they’re not.  As CS Lewis once said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”  Sabbath-keeping is how we prepare for that.

Who is leading you in the Dance?  How do you measure up…like a Pharisee or like James and John and Peter?  Christ is counting on you.

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