St. Luke's Church Faribault
- Our first Reading this morning was from the book of Deuteronomy . It describes the Sabbath.12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.Keep the Sabbath day Holy. What does that mean? We talked about holy before, it means set apart. So set apart the Sabbath day for the Lord.Take one day of your week, and give it to the Lord. Why would God want that? Why on earth would God need for us to give him a day? Is it for the success of His buildings? As if he has this religious thing and he needs people to attend so he makes it mandatory? Is that it?Well, further down in that passage God tells us why.15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.Remember, you were slaves in Egypt, and God rescued you. He brought you out with a mighty hand—Therefore God has commanded you Observe the Sabbath.At first glance, we have a couple of things pop into are heads and hearts right away.First is this, I was not a slave in Egypt, so how does that pertain to me? I didn’t share in that burden of being a slave in Egypt, I had nothing to be freed from, so “Remembering that i was a slave.. has little impact on me.So our focus turns to the word commanded, we are a fiercely independent species, and as soon as we hear that word commanded, a burden is placed on our back.These two thoughts, and our urge for loyalty, and duty, and honor. This verse starts to take on this context in our life, where we say, I should go to church today.I haven’t been in a while I need to go. I remember as a teenage kid, my parents would make me go to church. Then as grown-ups we and rightly so make our kids go to church.It reminds me of a cartoon I always thought was funny. In the comic a woman is trying to get her husband out of bed. She says, “Honey you have to get out of bed, it is time to go to church”. He replies, I don’t want to go to church today, She persistently replies, you have to go to church today. And he the man says ok give me one good reason why I have to go to church today, and she says, Becasue your the Pastor that’s why!.Well that’s and old comic, but unfortunately that is the way it these days. We have looked at the Sabath for so long as our duty, as our responsibility and as our mark of being a good person that it has become a burden, a rule and a way for us to measure each other and to measure our standing with God.It is our duty to go to church, we place this on our children. Today, generationally younger people do not share that sense of duty and loyalty and honor. Today people look at their busy schedules, and their varied interests, and suddenly church just isn’t important enough to include.What is the solution? Did God not plan for people to change? Is this a fault of the approach oof church not being interesting enough, or fun enough, or at the right time enough for people to be able to bear it enough to fulfill their monthly obligation?Let’s look at the second reading today and what happens. in our gospel reading from Mark chapter 2 verse 23.Jesus and his followers are walking through a grainfield on a Sabbath day. and as they were walking along they were picking heads of grain.Now, something you should understand about religion in those days- They has huge sense of duty and loyalty. They measured one another-much like we measure another today by the rules you follow, or did not follow. A big portion of the Sabbath rule in their mind was making sure you were not working.So when Jesus and friends are walking through the filed and they are hungry, they start to pick the grain and this in the religious people’s minds is doing work that which was clearly forbidden on the sabbath.What has happened is that the rule, when it was put in place begins to be the way we measure weather we are good or bad. It becomes about the law rather than about the reason for the law, and we get all focused and burdened by that.So they point it out-Look-look at what they are doing! this is awful! Where is their sense of duty and responsibility?So Jesus, reminds them of another passage of Scripture. It is an event in King David’s life. King David was the one they looked up to. He was the man God gave to be king over his people. He was there hero, so Jesus points out something to them.DOn;t you remember about your hero, King David? He entered the House of God, not just a field, but the house of God and ate the consecrated bread. This was the bread that was set apart for God. It was set aside so that they would remember that God was thier provider.It was to remind them that God fed them when they were out in the wilderness. Do you see where Jesus is going with this?Jesus is well, feeding the disciples, or God is providing for the disciples as they walk through the fields. And yes it was on a Sabbath. But...27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabath. God gave man a rest from his burden--through the Sabbath day—Let’s read that again, Deuteronomey 512 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.This is a good thing. God has freed us from that old burden that you were carrying. God freed the Israelites from the burden of slavery, It is a gift of God’s goodness, and God’s mercy. He has freed them, and he has given them this day as a reminder.But, In order to enjoy the rest you have to have felt the burden, in the first place. In order to understand the freedom, you have to understand the captivity.Paul writes this in the letter to the romans7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”What Paul says here is that without the law-- without those rules ---we wouldn’t have had a burden. See the rules point out how much of a rule-breaker we are. They show us what God is like- and in turn that shows us what we are like. In that respect the Pharisees are much like the law-pointing out the rule breakers.Often people do not particularly enjoy the Church experience becasue of that-the rules come to bear on people’s hearts.We experience and encounter a Holy God, and we see and realize we are sinful, and we do not live up to even the simplest of the law the 10 commandments. ANd to make matters worse, there seems to be an abundance of people who want to point out ways in which we do not follow the rulesSo as Paul points out-if we stay away from the law---If I don’t know the law--- then we have an ILLUSION of freedom-But if I come to church, hear the commandments, I become burdened. Burdened with my sin burdened with failings and my short comings.9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.When I learned the law, it is like part of me died, and I had to be free free from sin, free from this death.That burden is what you feel, when the holiness of God comes to bear on the sinfulness of your soul. The enemy weighs on you. He adds to the burden He is the accuser.He stands and condems you- like the pharisees in the hill look-look at what you are doing you are not living up to the rules, the burden is heavy go away, but it is the very place, you need to be.For here is where we hear of Jesus here is were we meet Jeusus at the cross- hear of Christ here is where we are set free,9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.and13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,Here is where your burden gets lifter -God has made you alive with Christ-By your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and his work on the cross-He forgives your sin- He frees you from the debt you owe to God14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.He took it from us, He took it from you- He nailed it to the cross in his flesh.And the enemy can no longer stand and accuse you and call you out15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.That freedom is freedom like you have never experienced before it is freedom to do allow God to provide for you. Freedom to allow God to provide mercy and grace for you be set apart for Him.16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.The reality brothers and sisters is so much more than rules the reality is Christ.The reality is in the mercy and grace of Lord Jesus., and it is His gift to us.Jesus calls us into His Sabbath-He invites us into this day.We don’t come to Church becasue we have to-We come becasue we get to-We don’t observe the Sabbath out of duty or loyalty-although those are good things-We observe the Sabbath-becasue God has given it to us-out of his Grace and mercy.
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