Exodus 20:9-11 Psalm 23 Matthew 12:1-14
Give me a break, give me a break.
Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!
That old jingle from the 1980’s gives us the idea that we need a break from our work. When we consider the hours that we spend working, thinking about work, preparing and finishing our work, we realize that we place a lot of emphasis on work.
Sooner or later we realize that we need more of a break from work than just the time it takes to eat a snack. So we spend hours upon hours planning the perfect vacation. We pack the clothes and toys in the car. We spend a whole lot of time on the road to get to our spot. Then, when the week is up, we load up the car again so we can head back to work. Now, I know the importance of vacations. However, I think God has a better plan for us.
This plan includes the four “R’s” of life with Jesus. First there is resting – that is all work and no down time and we get rundown. Second, there is rejoicing – we can be glad that we have a break from work. Then there is remembering – we remember who we are – God’s creation. The final “R” is redemption – just as God was refreshed after his break from creating, we are able to place life into perspective when we take a Sabbath rest.
As we are continuing our look at the Hillbilly Ten Commandments, let’s look deeper into these four “R’s” of life with Jesus.
That means we do no work on the Sabbath. This is not talking about re-instituting “Blue laws” or promoting a free-for-all on the weekend. What we are saying is that individuals and the community understand the need for rest. We can slow down – for life is more than money. We have an example to follow. God rested – if God can, what is stopping us from resting?
We don’t like to have people think we are lazy. We think and act like we always have to be doing something. The more hours we work in a week, the better we will have it. The more days we work, we think we will accomplish it. The more projects we have going on, we hope is that we will solve it. The “it” we are looking for cannot be found in all that we do. We won’t make “it” unless we stop. We need to find rest – the rest of our individual self, the rest of our family, the rest of community, the rest that God has for us. When we are working, though it has its benefits, we cannot find rest. When we are at rest, then we have time and energy to let God know what we think about him!
Where was Jesus on the Sabbath? He was found, as usual, in the synagogue (Luke 4:16). That could be our usual place to be found, in church on the Sabbath. Besides, when we have a break, we can give thanks for the work we are doing. What better place to rejoice than in church on the Sabbath! Who else will rejoice when you take a rest on the Sabbath? Your employees rejoice when you don’t work them seven days in a row. Your students rejoice when they don’t have to do schoolwork 7 days in a row. Your family rejoices to see you when you don’t have 10 million things on your mind. You rejoice when you realize that a Sabbath rest is like a weekly vacation!
When you don’t make everyone around you work every single day of the week, then all can rejoice. It is a time to refresh. As a matter of fact, church can be a place of rejoicing. That is we can delight in God during our Sabbath rest. If we dread going to worship at church because it is boring, then assuredly are breaking the 4th commandment! We want people to “git their hides ta Sunday meetin’.” But if it is boring as all get out, then we lead others to break the sabbath! Why go to church if it is boring, it would be better to just be at work – is what some may think after too many boring worship services! How can worship be boring? I mean, we are celebrating on a day when we remember God and all that he has done!
“Remember” is the first word in the NRSV’s translation of this commandment. Remember – how God worked 6 days & rested one day. Remember – there are other people in your life – family, co-workers, & even animals! Remember – God made this day! And it is holy (a blessed & consecrated day)
A phenomenon in this world is Alzheimer’s. As we age, we lose our capability to remember recent events. But older events, well we can remember those – even when the people around us don’t know what we are talking about! It seems that another phenomenon in our world is multi-tasking. That is we try to get as many tasks done as soon as possible. Yet, when we do try this, we fail. We cannot remember too many things at one time! So, we take a break and remember what tasks needs to be accomplished, one at a time. Our Sabbath is like that. We take a break so we can remember what God has done for us. When we forget what God has done for us, then may think that we don’t need God! It is when we remember God, our families, our communities also remember God. When we remember God, then know how he has redeemed us!
The reading of this commandment in Deuteronomy (5:12-15) reminds the Israelites how God redeemed them from Egypt – with his mighty hand and an outstretched arm. As we remember the creation (Genesis 1 & 2), then we remember God made us in his image. Then Jesus said that the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14) – we live the Sabbath, not allowing the world to overwhelm us.
God was thinking of you and me when he had a sabbath on the 7th day of creation. God was thinking of us when took a break from work. We think of God when we take a sabbath, once every seven days. We think of others when take a break from work. Our time is redeemed when we focus on Jesus and what his resurrection means. That is we have a new life in Jesus, because of his resurrection. The new life we can live because of Jesus is such that those around us find it is refreshing to be around us. No longer are we living our old ways, but Sabbath rests recreates so that God can be seen in our lives!
It is good for us to rest. When we spend a day away from our work, we get to see what really has value in life – you, the people around, and the God who created you.
It is good for us to rejoice. When we spend time each week praising God, then we get our own lives in perspective. Just because we can work from sun-up to sundown every one of our born days, we don’t have to do that. A day celebrating God and spending time with your loved ones helps you the other days of your life.
It is good to remember. When we forget who we are and from we came, then we get too big for our britches. Remembering God and what he has done in your life helps you to live. There is not much life in us if all we are known for is our work. It is not our work that makes us, it is God who has made us.
It is good for us to have redemption. When we only focus on what we have done, then we miss what God has done for us. God has brought us from slavery to new life. God has redeemed us.
So, why would you want to “git yer hide ta Sunday meetin'”? You want rest – only by spending time with God and his people do we have rest. You want to rejoice – only by speaking well of God’s work in your life can you learn to get away from the life of complaining about the drudgery of your work! You want to remember – only by being with God’s people and God himself can you find strength to carry on your life. You want to be redeemed – only by God’s ability to refresh you can you live in this world. So, what Jesus said is right, the sabbath was made for you!