Genesis 35:1-36:43; Matthew 12:1-21; Psalm 15:1-5; Proverbs 3:21-26
Desecrating the Sabbath
It is a constant temptation for those of us who are religious to maintain balance between religion and relationship. We can fall into the seductive trap of the Pharisees that says, “If I do my religion right then I am surely going to be right with God forever.” Today’s Psalm asks: “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” That’s what we want – to dwell in God’s sanctuary, to live on His holy hill forever. That’s why we are seriously religious. Verse two provides us the answer: ”Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart…”
What does it mean to be “blameless” and do what is “right”? Trying to be religiously perfect has always been a slippery slope because righteousness ends up being more about our heart than keeping rules. After meeting the resurrected Christ, a repentant Paul, having experienced the circumcision of his heart, wrote that “none are righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Paul began to understand the difference between “keeping the Sabbath” as a religious obligation and being in right relationship with the Lord of the Sabbath and the people for whom He died.
In Matthew, Jesus reveals that “keeping the Sabbath” is more about relationship than observance. Jesus challenged the burden of the traditional legalism associated with the Sabbath by doing right for a human whom God loved. May we find our balance in being religious and being in right relationship with God, with others, and ourselves.
Holy Cross Episcopal Church
Winter Haven, FL