Which Would You Rather Hear?

The Gospel Story for Sunday, August 22 displays the tension of two very different understandings of the Sabbath.  In one view, the sabbath is about rule-keeping and obedience, i.e. one should honor the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  In the other view, the sabbath is about freedom and privilege, i.e .one gets to honor the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

So when the woman who was crippled for 18 years came to Jesus on the Sabbath–desperately hoping for healing–Jesus, I believe, acted out of his understanding of Sabbath as ultimate freedom.  Freedom that God is in control, freedom that there was one day of the week when human striving was limited, and the bodies of all creatures–including human bodies–were allowed to rest, heal, renew.  The synagogue leader, by contrast, was indignant about this woman’s healing, which should (there’s that word again!) have taken place on a different day.

Which would you rather hear: 

“Sit down!  Be quiet!  It’s time to rest!” 

or

“Hey, why don’t you come and take a break with me?” 

How long has it been since you’ve found freedom in and through the Sabbath day?  Maybe you’ve been weighed down by life for more than 18 years, never getting a proper day’s rest?  If that’s true, perhaps it is time to stand up and see the face of Christ.

Healing God, give us the freedom that comes with resting in you.  Amen.

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