Wisdom and Comfort Matthew 11:16-30

It must be difficult to be a person of science in a culture that ignores facts. Wearing masks is known to reduce the spread of Covid but so many refuse to wear them. The young believe themselves immortal and are now the greatest spreaders of the virus. Conspiracy theories are believed as fact while truth is dismissed as political garbage and therefore ignored. In the assigned reading for Sunday, Jesus was talking about the generation of that day but he was equally describing our modern generation too. He was lamenting the “pseudo” wisdom which was so prominent then and now.

Jesus described the generation as,

But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Matthew 11:16-19

There is a way the world works. If you can master it, you can become extremely powerful and wealthy by the world’s standards. The trouble with Jesus was that he wouldn’t play the game. He refused to dance to the melody played and what was expected of him. He socialized with tax collectors and sinners. His attention was not directed to polling numbers but to healing the sick and for the poor to actually hear good news for a change. Heaven’s wisdom will not be found in playing childish games but is revealed by the Father. To know this wisdom is to know Jesus; to know Jesus is to know the Father.

Jesus spoke these wonderful words to the disciples and they are for us to hear as well.

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

There is a weariness that comes from constantly swimming against the culture’s current. There is an exhaustion that comes from caring for our neighbour’s well being…calling out the lies that keep the poor oppressed…repenting from our own and naming the racism that is interwoven in culture…, especially when life could be so much easier in just giving into the childish power games. What we fail to recognize is how soul diminishing a life consumed with hate and oppression can be. So Jesus invites us to learn from him. What we will learn is a wise way of living that re-freshens the soul. The way that follows Jesus is to learn from him and his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Peace and please wear your mask.

A Sabbath Rest Luke 13:10-17

What is the Sabbath for?  The word really means rest.  So how are we to rest on the Sabbath (what we know as Sunday)?  A day for sleeping in.  Play a round of golf.  A relaxing morning with coffee cup in hand.  Watch the ball game.  Attend a church service.  Eat brunch at a favorite restaurant.  A day to refrain from working.  What is the Sabbath for?  In the Ten Commandments we are told to ‘remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.’  Once more, what is the Sabbath for?  The reading from Luke has Jesus giving a whole new spin on the Sabbath.

A spirit has left a woman crippled for the past eighteen years leaving her bent over and and unable to stand up straight.  Jesus releases her from the infirmity.  Set free, she stands up for the first time in eighteen years and praises God.  Jesus was in trouble with the leader of the synagogue because this was the Sabbath. Why?  The Sabbath was for rest and not for work.  Jesus could have done the healing on a different day instead of violating the Sabbath’s command.  However, Jesus called the leader and all on their hypocrisy.  On the Sabbath, animals are led to water to be freed from their thirst and this is work.  Shouldn’t she, a daughter of Abraham, be set free from Satan’s bondage?  Now we are getting to Jesus’ point on the Sabbath.

Deuteronomy 5 directly connects observing the Sabbath to liberation from slavery in Egypt.  The Sabbath was for liberating all from slave, servant, immigrant to animal from labor so they may find rest as God found rest from the work of creation on the seventh day.  Jesus was living this out as he set the woman free and now fully free she could worship and give praise to God.

We are like this woman.  A spirit seems to have crippled us.  We are unable to fully observe the Sabbath.  How?  We are crippled by our refusal to recognize our pollution, waste and damage to God’s amazing creation.  We are crippled by our prejudice and hate.  We are crippled by our economics that reward only a few.  We are crippled by our demand for power over others.  We are all crippled and under bondage unable to fully praise the One who is our maker.

So how do we observe the Sabbath?  Repentance is a good start.  A repentance from the ways we keep those who also share in the image of God and the rest of creation under bondage.  A repentance that admits we are in bondage to a spirit that keeps us all from being fully human and fully able to worship God.  As Jesus was pointing out, the Sabbath is for all to know the liberation that allows all creation to be fully alive to sing the praises of God.  This is what the Sabbath is for.