Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of the 4th Week in Lent: Year 1
Morning Psalms 97 and 99; Evening Psalm 94;
Jeremiah 17:19 to 27; Romans 7:13 to 25; John 6:16 to 27
“And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors.” (Jeremiah 17:22)
According to Rabbi Joshua Heschel, the Sabbath is a gift from God. It is an offering of time that we should observe and be thankful for. The time of Sabbath is more holy than any place on earth. I fully understand that we must stay vigilant during our Sabbath time while watching and caring for the sick, and being prepared in case of fire or human violence, or aggression from foreign countries. However, as much as possible, we should set aside the seventh day, Saturday the Sabbath day, for rest (which does not necessarily mean worship). God knows that we need a day of pure rest so that we can “come to ourselves.” Medical people, fire fighters, police and the military should also work in such a way as to be afforded at least every other Sabbath day off when and if possible.
There are important and valuable lessons handed down to us in the Hebrew Testament. As Christians we should not ignore them. They still apply to us as Christians today. Let us prepare early in the week in anticipation for a Holy Sabbath. Is there a way we can look forward to loving the Sabbath? The isolation we have experienced during this pandemic has surely shown us that we can in fact stay home and be at rest. Perhaps we can keep the idea of some quiet time, post pandemic.
I take this time to write about this because the God of Israel is the Christian God also. Jeremiah was told by God to give this message at the People’s Gate, “and in all the gates of Jerusalem, and say to them: Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. Thus says the Lord: For the sake of your lives, take care that you do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors,” (Jeremiah 17:19 to 22). So, where is says; “and in all the gates,” I am thinking that over time, and metaphorically speaking, one of those gates is our Christian Gate. We only have one God who is the same then as God is now and will be forever.
We don’t have time to decide what is Jewish and what is Jesus. Jesus himself kept the Sabbath. Therefore, so should we who profess to follow Him. In fact, we should live and learn to love the Sabbath as God’s gift to all people no matter our socio-economic status or branch of worship.
Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John