Wow! Can you believe it is almost the holiday season? In just a few short weeks, most of us will all be eating turkey, holiday shopping, wrapping presents, and singing “Tis the season to be jolly. . .”
It’s hard to believe, considering the leaves have only just begun to fall and last week it was 70 degrees! And I don’t know about all of you, but the general busyness that autumn always seems to bring causes the holidays to sneak up on me every year! Autumn certainly has a way of giving new meaning to that old adage from Job about God being in the whirlwind!
For however much we’d all love a little breathier, we know that the holiday season brings with it its own special kind of busyness. For many of us, it is good busyness — but it isn’t always joyful. We get so caught up in beating the hordes of people in line at Target, tracking our Amazon shipments, getting our Christmas cards out on time, and making every holiday party, that we don’t always stop to take a breath and remember what exactly we are celebrating.
In Sunday school, we just finished studying the historical context of the 10 Commandments. It is interesting to note that in both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, God has an awful lot to say about Sabbath. God certainly has more to say about Sabbath than almost any other commandment in these passages.
In Exodus 20, God tells the Israelites that the reason they are to observe the Sabbath is because God observed it at the start of creation. Genesis tells us that after six days of labor, God rested. But one of the things I always find so interesting is that no one ever talks about what humans were doing while God was resting. After all, we were around for one whole day at this point.
Sometimes, I think we have this image of God on the seventh day sitting up in his armchair in the sky with his remote control, taking a snooze, while the rest of us were beginning our toil here on earth. But in the Hebraic text, what it actually communicates is that God rested in creation with the creatures God just finished creating. God marveled at the work that was just accomplished and enjoyed the harmony that existed between it all.
So, let’s just get this straight. On the first day of our existence, before we ever had a chance to earn it — before we could write out our to-do lists, and achieve our worth in life, and meet every expectation put on us by God and others — God called us into God’s own rest. To enjoy the peace and harmony of simply knowing that we are God’s beloved masterpiece, before we had a chance to worry about anything else.
No wonder God had so much to say to the Israelites about Sabbath. Sabbath rest is what we were created for. Harmony between God and the world God loves is why we exist. And it is the very thing we anticipate this season in the coming of Jesus Christ — Emmanuel — the God who has promised to dwell with us from the very beginning.
— Pastor Kate