Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Studying Sabbath

Throughout my years of ministry, and even before, I have studied Sabbath.  I have studied scriptural references, both Old Testament and New.  I have read modern theologians writings about Sabbath.  I have read how-to books about Sabbath.  I have looked at our denomination's offerings on Sabbath.  I have tried to live Sabbath, to have a Sabbath day, to encourage Sabbath practices in others.  I have preached and taught Sabbath.  So why is it so elusive?

We struggle with the tension between law and grace when talking about Sabbath.  When the subject comes up, one quickly hears references to what we must NOT do on the Sabbath.  One is reminded of Blue Laws; of stores and restaurants being closed; of the expectation that one would refrain from doing "work;"  of the hoped for rest and renewal.  

We remember the commandment: 

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy" (Ex 20:8-11). 

We do it because God did it.

Or perhaps:  

"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day" (Deut 5:12-15).

We do it to remind ourselves that God has freed us from all that binds us, including work.

And yet we struggle with what sabbath is, and perhaps more importantly, how to  "keep" it.  Perhaps we need to listen more closely to what Jesus says and does when asked about Sabbath keeping, as in Luke 6:1-11 and other gospel texts. The question is not what do we do (or NOT do) on the Sabbath to keep it holy.  This is law.  It is instead to ask for what, and for whom, was the sabbath created.  How is sabbath-keeping grace? 

When we understand the difference between those questions, then we will come closer to keeping sabbath as God intended.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Five: Where is its HOME?

Mary Beth writes:

As noted at my own blog, my word for the year is "clear."

One of the things to which this refers is clearing away clutter.

One of the best ways I have found to do this is to give everything that comes into my house a HOME. And I can easily tell that I have too many things when there are not enough homes for them all!

I gleaned the idea of items having homes  from my younger sister who used to say to her toddlers, "See that book on the floor there? Is that its home? No? Please put the book into its home." Often, I am saying the same words to myself that she said to her little ones.

Photo from Discountofficeitems.com
In my mother's house, the Marks-A-Lot marker always went in the cupboard next to the sink. I don't know why, I just know that's where the Marks-A-Lot goes, still and forever, in my house many miles away.  

So:  Tell us your favorite homes for five things, the places that you can always and reliably find them. 

Tell us about them; show us pictures if you want!  And definitely post a link in the comments, using the following formulation, so we can all come and see.


In our house, we are not always good about putting things where they go!  It is a growing edge, especially for my boys (DH included)!  But I do have some things I "religiously " place in their home, because my sanity depends on it!

1)  KEYS
My keys go in a specific pocket on my purse.  If I don't put them there, I spend valuable time looking for them, and since I'm rarely early, that's not a good thing!  If they are not in my purse, the second place is a specific place on the kitchen counter.

2)  PENS

 With two school aged children, I am always having to sign something.  In addition, there are the requisite phone messages and numbers to write down.  So pens go in one of three places:  the junk drawer, the school supply/craft drawer, or my purse.  I can usually find one in one of the drawers, but for some reason, after a period of time the pen in my purse disappears.  I think the gremlin that lives in the dark bottom of my bag eats them.


Readers go by the computer because that is the only place I need them.  My regular glasses suffice for all other reading.  If my readers are not by the computer, I am frustrated, and I get a crick in my neck and/or a headache straining to read the screen.


Sadly, I am a willing participant in the addiction/dependency on our cellular devices.  My phone is in my purse or on my person at all times.  It is Murphy's Law that dictates that as soon as my phone is in another location, I receive that call/text/email that is so extremely important!


As noted, I am firmly entrenched in the electronic age.  My Kindle goes with me wherever I go for two reasons:  1) my calendar is on it, and 2) you never know when you will need reading material!