Exodus 37–39, Psalm 29, Mark 2
It’s not always easy to see—the biblical writers were human beings, as we are, and sometimes confused their own customs and preferences with the divine will, as we sometimes do. But a thread of blessing winds through the laws laid on Israel: it is for our good and for our joy that God makes demands on us. At bottom, the law is for us, not against us.
Often we see Jesus interacting with people who have lost sight of this. Grimly competitive in their by-the-book fidelity to the letter of the law, they react with violence to the intimacy with God upon which Jesus bases his own relationship: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). For Jesus, the law points consistently to a loving God. For some, it has become an end in itself.
Many Jewish writers speak of the enormous blessing of sabbath, a blessing which continues through even the most secular life. They get up from a meeting and take their leave, take an early train home, breathe deeply of a weekly rest—a rest like the one which even God embraced. From it they emerge to face another challenging week, knowing that the blessing of sabbath will come again, and soon.
Have you ever found a freedom wrapped in a restriction? Something you would not have seen were it not for being unable to do what you wanted to do?
Have you ever broken a rule for a good reason?
O God, we thank you for the things we can do and the things we can’t. Help us to see the freedom wrapped in our restrictions, and to look beneath the surface of our rules to discern their spirit. Amen.
-The Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton
Author and Retreat Leader
Newark, New Jersey