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. The Sabbath Law still applies 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 the pandemic as 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 it 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.
Today, those of us in the Anglican Communion remember Thomas Cranmer; Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1556. “Thomas Cranmer was born at Aslockton in Nottinghamshire, England, on July 2, 1489. At fourteen, he entered Jesus College, Cambridge, where by 1514 he had obtained his BA and MA degrees and a Fellowship. In 1526, he became a Doctor of Divinity, a lecturer in his college, and examiner in the University. During his years at Cambridge, he diligently studied the Bible and the new doctrines emanating from the continental Reformation. During the reign of Edward VI, Cranmer had a free hand in reforming the worship, doctrine, and practice of the Church. Thomas Cranmer was principally responsible for the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549, and for the second Book, in 1552. But at Edward’s death he unfortunately subscribed to the dying King’s will that the succession should go to Lady Jane Grey. For this, and also for his reforming work, he was arrested, deprived of his office and authority, and condemned by Queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII by Catherine, and a staunch Roman Catholic. He was burned at the stake on March 21, 1556.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses for March 21)
Please keep up your thoughts and prayers and hopes for Ukraine and Russia.
As we listen to what the Spirit of God is saying to us, let us live to love and serve, and to teach others to love and serve, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John