Daily Devotion - Tuesday, March 8, 2016

18 “‘Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. - Leviticus 25:1-9

The lectionary text for today is part of a larger set of ancient Hebrew laws regarding the Sabbath.  The ancient Hebrew people believed that God had ordained laws for Sabbath rest not only for human beings, but also for the land upon which they lived.  

Further, they believed that God also meant for them to observe a radical economic Sabbath every fifty years--when debts were forgiven, and mortgaged property was returned to the original families who owned it.  

What was up with all of this rest--for people and the earth?  Why did they observe such radical notions of release from debt?  Could it be that God knows something we don't?  

Think about the way things work in our world right now.  With constant connectivity through phone, text, email and social media--most of us never "shut down."  If we have to wait for someone to respond to our texts, emails, messages on Facebook and the like, we become annoyed and aggravated.  

We wear our busy-ness like a badge of honor--showing it proudly to all of our family, friends and co-workers.  "How are you?"  "Oh my gosh--so busy! You wouldn't believe how busy!  Just look at my calendar!"  

Our 24-hour news cycle doesn't help either, does it?  When I was a kid you used to have to wait until 6 or 7PM to hear all of the bad news of the day.  Now you can't get away from it.  It's on the cable news channels all day, every day--playing in the background in waiting rooms at your garage, on the screens in the gym, even in our own homes while we go about our day.  

Think about the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of factories operating constantly, churning out goods all over the world, consuming resources, energy and the like to produce all of the things that fill the shelves of Wal-Mart and Target--things that we can't seem to do without.  

Should I go on?  We could talk about the over-fished waters off of our coast, or farmland that has to be artificially enriched to keep growing cash crops, or the countless other ways that we never... ever... stop.  

There is a reason why the first five books of the Bible (the Torah) are filled with constant references to the Sabbath.  Maintaining a Sabbath mindset for individuals, community and the land was a huge part of God's desire for His people.  They had been freed from slavery in Egypt, where they did nothing but work, slaving away seven days a week in the service of a greedy, consumptive empire.  

As Christians we remember the words of Jesus about the Sabbath: "Humans were not created for the Sabbath--the Sabbath was created for humans."  In other words, "Don't get hung up on the idea of this being a law that you have to keep, embrace this as a gift that gives you life."    

May you find ways each day to observe Sabbath moments.  May you discover the freedom of carving out Sabbath days to rest, restore and recover your true humanity.  May you do your best to facilitate Sabbath rest for the community, society, the land, the earth around you.  May you find healing for your mind, body and soul.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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