First Reading: Isaiah 58:9b-14
9bIf you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. 12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. 13If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; 14then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Sabbath. When was the last time you took a Sabbath day – a day where you rested, refrained from any work, and solely focused on God?
In the Jewish tradition, Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday. There is a beautiful scene in the musical, “Fiddler On The Roof” as the family is getting everything done so that the Sabbath can be observed. The family rushes around frantically until they gather at the table. The matriarch offers the prayer at the table, and lights a candle. As she performs this simple task, she covers her eyes three times, asking God to forgive her for even the work of lighting the candle.
A Sabbath’s day journey is considered 1000 steps. Doing more than that would be considered work. We lived in Bexley while I was in seminary (that is where Capital University/Trinity Lutheran Seminary are located). It is a predominantly Jewish community. On Saturday, you would see people walking to worship instead of driving their cars. If you lived further than 1000 steps, the drive was permitted.
As you can imagine, there have been many laws established around the commandment to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
I don’t know about you, but early on in the pandemic over two years ago, I had a hard time finding time to observe the Sabbath. There was always something that needs attention, and one day (AND night) bleeds into the next. With so many things shut down, you would think the opposite would have been true.
I know that there is great wisdom in taking time for Sabbath. First of all, how important it is to be completely present in the presence of God. Being able to have time set aside to hear the good news of God proclaimed, sing praises to God and feed on God’s Word and Sacrament is nourishment for the soul.
Also our bodies and minds need time to shut down every now and then, to rest and recharge. Sabbath is God’s gift to us.
So I invite you (and I am looking in the mirror as I say this too) to take time, MAKE time to Sabbath. God rested on the seventh day. Shouldn’t we?
A prayer I have offered before – Psalm 46:10 – leave out a word after each line. May this be OUR Sabbath prayer (and prayer for today):
Be still, and know that I am God
Be still, and know that I am
Be still, and know that I
Be still, and know that
Be still, and know
Be still, and