Sabbath is taking time for God. It's more than not going to work, not working at home, not sitting at the computer, not working around the house—it's reminding ourselves of God's central place in our lives and being grateful. It’s also reminding ourselves that we aren’t the center of the universe and that work can go on without us.
The way of Christ, self-denial, reminds us that our life is not our own. It belongs to God. It reminds us that we are not in control, God is. Our life is not about us. It is about God There is great freedom in knowing these things. We are free to be fully alive. Through self denial our falling down becomes rising up. Losing is saving. Death is resurrection.
Casting and mending are realities of life. They are also the circumstances in which Jesus comes to us, the context in which we hear the call to new life, and the place where we are changed and the ordinary is transformed.
Take a moment to remember the last baptism you witnessed. Perhaps you can recall the proud parents and godparents, dressed in their Sunday best, standing around the baptismal font. In their arms they hold their young, freshly-bathed child, hoping that she won’t create a fuss. Before them stands the minister or priest, neatly dressed in suit and tie, or robe, or colorful vestments. The font stands ready. The congregation looks on with curiosity and pleasure, wondering how the child will respond to what is about to happen. The atmosphere is peaceful and serene. It is a family occasion, a beautiful moment that will long be remembered.
Matthew begins with a genealogy linking Jesus back to Abraham. Luke begins with a short address about his research methodology. John begins with a mysterious poem about creation. But Mark just hits the ground running and never looks back.
“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
So why should we read Leviticus? I believe that underneath all the rules about sacrifice and purity, all the strange regulations about food and clothes, there is a vision of holiness and harmony with God that is life-giving and has the potential to speak a healing word to our fractured and alienated condition.
God’s motive was freedom from bondage and a new opportunity to rebuild the community. Cyrus’ motive was expanding his territory by military might and increasing the kingdom over which he reigned. How could God rely on someone like that to further God’s intention?
We all know somebody who never earned nor deserved what they got, right? They didn’t really deserve that job, promotion, raise, recognition, happiness, or success. We worked longer or tried harder, but that didn’t make any difference.
More often than not, we view the world, ourselves, and others through the lens of fairness rather than grace. We view ourselves in comparison to others.
That’s the exact opposite of how God views the world.
Forgiveness, for Jesus, is not a quantifiable event. It is a quality; a way of being, a way of living, a way of loving, a way of relating, a way of thinking and seeing. It is nothing less than the way of Christ.
“Is it real?” That’s one of my boys’ favorite questions. When they encounter something new or different that is what they want to know. Reality for them is something that can be seen, tasted, touched, smelled, and heard. Reality was determined by, and limited to, the five physical senses.