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Friday, June 24, 2016

Today’s Reading | Matthew 12:1–14  

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests. Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.” He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other.

But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. (NRSV)

We take it for granted that our sabbath is on Sunday. The first time I attended meetings in a country where the work week begins on Sunday (in this case, Bahrain), I remember clearly thinking that it was just plain wrong to be working on the sabbath. But spending time in non-Christian countries puts a finer point on the role of the sabbath in our Christian tradition. And I appreciated it so much more given an alternative context.

Wendell Berry says, “Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.”

Regardless of the day of the week, I appreciate the opportunity to rest and reflect. Removing yourself from the busyness of life is a gift. Find space wherever you are, whatever the day, to dwell on the wonder around you.

Abundant God and giver of all life, allow me to focus on the beauty of the world around me. Today and every day. Amen.

Written by Lesley Conzelman, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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