Sunday, October 21, 2012

“Celebrating the Sabbath” (Hebrews 4:1-13)

S-1341 21SAP/3B 10/21/12 Hymns: (O) #827; (S) #850; (C) #832 LSB

Text: Ecclesiastes 5:10-20; Hebrews 4:1-13; Mark 10:23-31

Theme: “Celebrating the Sabbath” (Hebrews 4:1-13)

Question: “Have you encouraged anyone this week?” Mission Sunday for Mt. Calvary Huron

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Meditation is from the Epistle lesson: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 3:13).

Precious ones, when I was growing up in Israel, we had many big celebrations—baptisms, engagements, weddings etc. We would get together, eat, fellowship and dance late into the night. Often mother would come and get me out of my chair and I would dance with her. My heart danced, my body danced and so did my soul. We were having fun and celebrating. But the time came when mother was getting older and no longer able to dance, so I danced with others. Eventually mother was called to her eternal rest, and I’m unable to dance or celebrate with her anymore this side of heaven.

In today’s text the author to the Hebrews speaks of the rest that we all need to enter. And as we enter it, we celebrate the rest God has given us. God gave us the Sabbath (Hebrew: Shabbat) as a day of rest and rejuvenation, a day to enjoy His creation and focus on Him. Shabbat means “to rest”. How many times in our busy lives we don’t take time for needed rest! The pace of life today is much faster than it has ever been. Today’s families seem to never have enough time to spend together. Celebrating the Sabbath provides time to unwind, be with family and refocus on the Author of Life—our loving and gracious God.

Unfortunately, the celebration of the Sabbath is a tradition that has been lost to many Christians. We have lost the desire to be with God and in His presence. There are many things that tug at us and keep us away from God’s holy house and the peace He offers us. There are games to attend, fishing, hunting, golfing, camping and a host of things that keep us away. We no longer have the hunger or the desire to get the proper rest of both body and soul.

Sadly we have lost focus and no longer cry out like David: I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1). Neither do we heed the Word of Jesus’ teaching: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). And above all, we have forgotten what God has instructed us “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord Your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:8-11). And we can’t forget what Luther stated regarding this Commandment: What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”

For this reason, the celebration of the Sabbath is an excellent teaching tool about God and His plans for humanity, and a wonderful “family time” as well. The Sabbath was the first festival to be outlined by God to Moses in the book of Leviticus. It was the first festival observed by God Himself in the book of Genesis, as well as being the first to be observed by man, even before the revelation at Mount Sinai when the other festivals were commanded. The Sabbath is a time of rest and is a Picture of the Bride (God’s people) resting with the Bridegroom, Yeshua (Jesus). It is very symbolic of the ultimate fulfillment of the eternal Sabbath with Him in paradise. PAUSE.

Because of this we are encouraged by the author of our book in another chapter saying “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:24-25). Oh how blessed we are when we do, and how tragic and sad when we don’t come to rest in His arms and celebrate what He gives us.

But like our fallen parents, ever since the fall in the Garden, we have continued to run away from Him. Rather than coming to Him seeking His blessings and proper rest of our bodies and souls; we seek pleasures and contentment in other things. Rather than resting and celebrating with Him we vainly try to find rest in the things that wear us out and worse these things KILL us.

Because of our disobedience Christ needed to come to earth. And while here, He obeyed the will of God perfectly. He always found time to be in the Lord’s house. He who is both God and Man needed the proper rest because of the demand put on Him and He always sought God and the rest He offers. But He did more than that. He went to the gallows of the cross to pay the penalty of our disobedience and to earn for us the proper rest—eternal rest with Him and in His presence. PAUSE.

The other day, I saw a street sign saying “Inactive Catholics come home.” That is a great slogan. But a sign on the street is not enough, we need to be involved in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ and invite all to come back not because they are inactive but because they are in desperate need to rest in Christ’s bosom and celebrate the forgiveness He offers them through His Word and Sacrament.

And when we are in His presence with other fellow believers, we rejoice and celebrate daily the salvation He has granted us by His love and death on Calvary’s cross and the empty tomb. Every time we are gathered by the Lord here in this place for the Divine Service, we celebrate the party of His presence. It even comes with the present of the forgiveness of sin! Here we find the rest we need. And when the worship Service is over, we, too, can depart in peace—whether it be from the celebration of worship into the day ahead or whether it be from our days on earth to the celebration that doesn’t end.

May, He, who made the Sabbath cause us to hunger and thirst for Him as we celebrate our rest today and always. Amen.

Now the peace…


1 comment:

The Editor said...

You should acknowledge when you cannabalize material word for word from the writings of another, just as a courtesy.