Rev. Carol A. Prochaska (ret.)
August 25, 2013
Title: Seeing Through Sabbath Eyes
Scripture: Luke 13:10-17Sabbath is an intermission. Sabbath is both cessation and celebration.
"Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy!"
"How could we learn deep down to our core that the holy day is sheer gift, God's treasure for us to be restored? Its rhythm matches how we were created; only in its keeping can we truly flourish." (Marva J. Dawn. The Sense of Call.)
When I was a kid in Sunday School I, like some of you, memorized the Ten Commandments. And here we are, years later, still able to come-up with at least some of them! I have this childhood memory of being about 6 or 7 years old, coming home from Sunday School to ask my parents what "adultery" meant. My Mum and Dad looked at each other in the silence. My Dad, who seldom attended church (unlike my mother), gave her the nod to answer my question. And so my mother began her explanation. She said something about people being married, and something about vows, and something about being committed to those vows, and something about those vows being for life - and by then my mind was elsewhere! Apparently adultery had something to do with adults! Whatever adultery was it had nothing to do with my life!
The one commandment most of us think has little or nothing to do with our 21st Century lives is: "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy." In the book of Exodus this commandment is followed by a long explanation as to why this is important and necessary and good for us. So this morning we ask: "If we don't keep Sabbath what are we missing out on? What will others miss out on?"
If you're bent over and cannot straighten-up, about all you see is dust and dirt! The mountains are there but you see them only from a twisted and uncomfortable angle — and the same goes for the sky and clouds and rainbows. People may speak of the beauty of a full harvest moon but it never looks full when you're bent over. Try talking to someone's feet —at best it's awkward and at worst you're ignored. None of us go through life without being in circumstances when all we can see is dust and dirt. We all know about those times when the beauty enjoyed by others is not ours or ours only in half measure. We've all experienced those situations when the weight of life is heavy and seems to bend us over and we wonder when or if things will change. And then there's the loneliness. Even when we're noticed people may not understand how it is for us. Sometimes they don't know what to say and so we feel awkward and so do they.
When you're bent over, weighed down and cannot straighten-up about all you see is dust and dirt!
As was his discipline, Jesus is observing Sabbath. He sees the woman with a crippling and weighing- down spirit. To see as Jesus is seeing here means "to pay close attention." The Greek word is sometimes translated "see" and sometimes "behold." It has to do with perceiving and arriving at an understanding. It's more than physical sight. It's also seeing with the heart -the way we see those we love. In beholding this woman: Jesus sees a daughter of Abraham and Sarah (a sister in faith), he sees her imprisonment (not what God intends), he sees that she cannot free herself (she needs help) and he sees that she's been this way a very long time (something needs to change now). Yes Jesus sees a bent-over woman — and he sees so much more! And then so does the woman see so much more! And then so do those with her! And then so also the religious leader — except he's not rejoicing with the others. He is so ticked-off!
Sabbath rules have been broken! What was Jesus thinking? Has there ever been such noise and commotion in his synagogue? No! No not in his memory and there's nothing wrong with his memory. However lest we bear down too hard on him let's be mindful that those in leadership positions in any time and place are supposed to care about rules! And let's also remember how easy it is to become fearful of the consequences when rules are broken and long-held traditions are set aside.
However! Apart from rules kept or broken what about this religious leader's eyesight? What did he see when he looked at the woman? Or did he even see her?
This morning, based on this gospel reading, I would like to propose that we need to observe Sabbath time to improve our eyesight! Our heart-sight! When we leave here, I'd like to think that when we happen upon a homeless teenager: we'll behold a sister or a brother, or we'll feel gratitude for Cicada Place and those who work there, or we may sense a calling to respond in some way. Because we've been here keeping Sabbath I'd like to think that our eyes have been opened wider.
After the bent-over woman was made straight and she and the others left worship to go home, would her life — would their life - be free of challenges? Probably not! As anyone here can testify life constantly brings challenges, sometimes small and sometimes not so small. But their viewpoint, their perspective, has been unalterably changed. And don't we know how that can make all the difference in the world!
Our minister David has started a Sabbatical Blog. It's on our church's web site. We'll find other ways of sharing his comments with you. Reflecting on his second week of his Sabbatical he shared that he has been sorting through "papers, books, journals, and letters". He wrote: "We need to shed the many things that we carry around with us that burden us down rather than lift us up. We accumulate stuff in our souls and our hearts that weight us down É" He goes on to say: "Every once in awhile we need to go through a process of shedding this excess heavy baggage and rediscover a new light-heartedness".
Every seven days (every Sabbath Day) we have an opportunity to shed some excess spiritual and emotional baggage. Here we have an opportunity to lighten-up our load. And to just plain "lighten-up!" After-all it's not all up to me! It's not all up to us! Here through word, song and prayer we can be immersed in God's Love. Here we have opportunity to be re-filled and re-charged with Love and Spirit. And by being here we can go out there with improved eyesight (improved heart-sight) to see much more than just dust and dirt.