Fall 2010 - Department | St. Alban’s Minute
Keeping Sabbath Time
Luke 13:10-17 (NRSV)10Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
Sunday became a day of rest in the Western world though the association with Christianity. Sunday became “The Lord’s Day,” a day of renewal. Thus, with the spread of Christianity, Sunday became a day for worship, rest, and renewal.
In Luke 13:10-17, Jesus heals a woman of her crippling disease on the Sabbath. We are told that the leader of the synagogue became indignant and reprimanded Jesus before the crowds. Jesus’ response is powerful.
Jesus is not healing on the Sabbath because he sees it as a silly and archaic commandment. It just the opposite: Jesus knows and understands that keeping the Sabbath a central commandment is important – one that God honored in creation.
Now, athletic games, organized bicycle rides, and other activities have crept into the Sunday morning calendar and moved into “Sabbath time.” We lead busy lives, and all the more we need Sabbath time. We need to reclaim the Sabbath as a time to connect with God.
Sabbath time can be found in sleep, golf, surfing, worship, or other activities. Yet, we must also be careful not to use this sacred time in ways that fulfill selfish desires. It is a time to rest and rejoice in being a participant of Creation and honor the One who creates and sustains all there is.
How many of us have listened to countless people wonder aloud how it is that they work more and more and are increasingly exhausted, and yet the harder they work, the more they feel behind? They don’t have time for the stillness and peace the Sabbath intends.
The Sabbath should be a time for honoring God’s creation in very deliberate ways. But more than that, Sabbath time should be a time for mercy and grace. It is that time when we open ourselves to God changing us. That we might be touched by the very love which formed us out of the dust of the earth; be healed of our crippled spirits; stand up and offer our selves, our souls, and bodies, and be consumed by the fire of the Spirit.