God of Sabbath Rest
Mark 2:23-3:6 Pronouncement about the Sabbath
One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’
The Man with a Withered Hand
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Let’s be honest, the work of building the kingdom of God in our world today is hard, difficult, and often rejected. When the world talks about war, we talk about peace. When they shout for justice, we say forgiveness. When they talk about exclusion, we talk about inclusion. That kind of upside down, kingdom work is difficult and can be at times quite draining. Which is why we need to learn how to rest, to recharge, and reconnect to the profound source of grace that sustains us in this work.
The trick for us as a Christian community is going to be that we don’t have to rest at the same time. Like woodwind instruments in an orchestra, we as the Christian community need to learn to stagger our breathing. If we want to keep the good fight going, and have a song of peace and grace, we need to stagger our breathing so that we don’t drop the melody of God’s grace, or run out of breath before the song of peace is over.