Sunday, 21 July 2013

Sabbath as Kingdom Release

In the story of the crippled woman (Luke 13:10 - 17) Jesus calls forward the woman in the synagogue and simply says 'Woman, you are set free'. This was a day of liberation: the woman, freed from her infirmity of multi-years, was restored from all that bound her.

Yes it was a day of glorious release - it was the Sabbath day.

Fitting because the Sabbath and liberation go hand in hand. Remember the Old Testament principles, e.g. Dt 15 where every seventh year debts are cancelled and slaves can go free. Our theme this year of poverty and justice is directly connected with the concept of Sabbath.

But for some its all rules and regulation, which in the Luke story leads people to 'tut tut'. Similarly in Luke 6, they argue with Jesus as he seems to sit loose with the Old Testament regulations - the very same regulations we looked at last week!

The point is that Sabbath points us to God and His work - like the work of healing they had just seen before their eyes. The Pharisees simply couldn't see it, no matter how miraculous it was. The sad fact is that if your life is driven purely by rules and regulations then you too will miss out on the wonders of God.

Furthermore it is when we are trying to max out on life, squeezing every last ounce of productivity, that injustices creep in: no space for God, no space for God's justice agenda.

Instead we are to be a liberation people, living the Sabbath, having rest and delight in God both for our own well-being but all pointing to God who brings possibility of release and rest for others. We are to be working like Jesus, declaring His Kingdom and releasing people into it.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sabbath as Sign - Exodus 31:12 - 17

The Exodus passage is pretty direct: 3 times it effectively repeats that breaking the Sabbath means death! Whilst we may not believe in actively executing people these days, we all know that if we over do it, or try to go on maxing out on life ... eventually will kill us. This is poignant in our culture, which actively bombards us all the time, making it all the harder to carve out Sabbath time.

We could just run away from it all, yet as Christians we need to make ourselves available. For the youth this may even mean having your mobile always to hand, ready to respond to a friend in need. After all, being available in the small things communicates that you will be there when the crunch comes.

So how do we make ourselves available, without burning out?

Perhaps the answer lies in the rhythms of life we make for ourselves. If we create the habit of having deliberate 'down time', it will have two effects. First it will build in space and capacity to be available for friends when they really need it. Second it will help regularly assert that God is Number 1 and can be trusted.

God told the Israelites to keep the Sabbath: with it acting as a 'sign', reminding them that God is in control. Maybe we should structure our week around our Sabbath times, making it the centre of our week reflecting how God is centre of our lives. This will communicate a different rhythm, an alternative drumbeat to the world - perhaps even acting as a sign to our unbelieving friends that things can be different.

Living this difference allows us to be open: potentially open to have our hearts broken by the same things that break God's heart. Hence the key question this week is:

[OUT] How do you make yourself available for others – without hurting yourself? Are you prepared to have your heart broken for others … or are you too busy?

[OUT] How do you make yourself available for others – without hurting yourself? Are you prepared to have your heart broken for others … or are you too busy?