Monday, March 29, 2010

Devotional 290310

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. There is no other God but our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Creator God, the merciful savior who sacrificed Himself for our sins, and the One who dwells among us each day for His glory. As we enter into another new week, we are full of expectations to grow and learn in Him. Praise God for His goodness. Indeed He is good to us.

Keeping the weekly rhythm requires deliberate action. Sabbath keeping often feels like an interruption, an interference with our routines. It challenges assumptions we gradually build up that our daily work is indispensable in making the world go. And then we find that it is not an interruption but a more spacious rhythmic measure that confirms and extends the basic beat. Every seventh day a deeper note is struck – an enormous gong whose deep sounds reverberate under and over and around the daily timpani percussions of evening/morning, evening/morning, and evening/morning: creation honored and contemplated, redemption remembered and shared on the Day of Sabbath.

In the two biblical versions of the Sabbath commandment, the commands are identical but the supporting reasons differ. The Exodus reason is that we are to keep a Sabbath because God kept it (Exodus. 20:8-11). God did his work in six days and then rested. If God sets apart one day to rest, we can too. There are some things that can be accomplished, even by God, only in a state of rest. The work/rest rhythm is built into the very structure of God’s interpenetration of reality. The precedent to quit doing and simply be is divine practice. Sabbath-keeping is commanded so that we internalize the being that matures out of doing.

The Deuteronomy reason for Sabbath-keeping is that our ancestors in Egypt went four hundred years without a vacation (Deut. 5:15). They never had a day off. The consequence: they were no longer considered persons but slaves, hands or work units. They were not persons created in the image of God but equipment for making bricks and building pyramids. Humanity was ruined. Lest any of us would do the same to our neighbor or husband or wife or child or employee, we are commanded to keep a Sabbath.

Sabbath is therefore designed for our well being. Just as our Lord Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27), we don’t take Sabbath in a legalistic manner. The spirit of Sabbath, as Peterson said earlier, is to contemplate, think and remember all the work that God has accomplished through us, so that we will not be lost in our busyness and mechanical operations as a slave. We may not live as slaves like the old days. But we are enslaved by Mammon/money god in this capitalistic society. We felt like we can’t afford not to give all our energy and time to earn money, in order to keep up with our lifestyle. It is like the drug addicts who will do whatever in order to get high with a dosage of the drug – they are enslaved by drugs. True Sabbath is meant to free us from such enslavement. But a lot of our Sabbath may be just two hours of religious routines, and then busy ourselves again with chores and work.

Entertainment or recreation is good to free us from work rhythm – to give us freedom to spend with family and friends – to appreciate life as a gift from God. Entertainment is designed on Sabbath as part of worship. After Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem and reinstituted worship at the temple, he said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve." Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them (Nehemiah 8:10-12). With joy and thanksgiving let’s celebrate His goodness on Sabbath!

Love you in His goodness,

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