Series – Keeping Sabbath
Sermon – Remember the Sabbath?
Scripture Readings: Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11
Remember the sabbath day, and 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; you shall not do any work….For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
Monday July 22 — Genesis 2:1-3
The first creation story (yes, there are two distinct creation stories in Genesis, the second one begins in Genesis 2:4b) concludes with God resting on the seventh day, thereby establishing it (the seventh day) as holy and sacred. The weekly cycle of work and rest is written into the fabric of God’s creation: the life that God intends for us includes a holy day for rest, re-creating (and worship.) Consider the shape of your life right how. Where do you find rest and re-creation?
• Prayer: Creator God, help me to understand the deeper meanings of the creation stories and recognize that your creation calls for a day of rest. Amen.
Tuesday July 23 — Exodus 20:8-11
The importance of the weekly day of rest is codified in the Ten Commandments. God’s instructions to Moses include these words: “Remember the sabbath day, and 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; you shall not do any work.” (Exodus 20:8-10). Keeping sabbath is not just something we do when we have some extra time: God expects us (commands us) to remember and observe the sabbath day. In what ways do you remember the sabbath? Is sabbath-keeping one of your spiritual disciplines?
• Prayer: Merciful God, I confess that I too often treat sabbath-keeping as optional, for when I have some extra time. Help me to remember the sabbath every week. Amen.
Wednesday July 24 — Exodus 20:1-17
We misread and misuse the Ten Commandments when we reduce them to a set of laws to obey or a set of criteria to judge whether we (or someone else) is living a good life. The Ten Commandments describe the live that God intends: worshipping and honoring God alone, living in right relationship with our families and neighbors, and living a faithful and healthy life. Keeping the sabbath is essential for staying in right relationship with God and others. It seems that we can’t keep the rest of the covenant without keeping the sabbath. Consider your priorities: is keeping the sabbath as important to you as it is to God?
• Prayer: Covenant-Making God, thank you for describing in great detail the life you intend for me to live. Teach me that keeping the sabbath is essential for a faithful life. Amen.
Thursday July 25 — Genesis 15:1-6
Living the life that God intends requires that we trust God. Sometimes, when we consider the Old Testament Scriptures, we assume that it is primarily about God’s demands for obedience and God’s judgments for disobedience. But when we read carefully, we discover grace and forgiveness. And we discover that a healthy and faithful relationship with God requires that we follow Abram’s example, where it says that “he believed the Lord” (Genesis 15:6). Keeping the sabbath and obeying God’s commandments are ultimately an act of faith. We have to trust that God knows best. What are the next steps for you as you grow in faith and trust?
• Prayer: God of Love, even though I believe that you know best, I don’t always act that way. Forgive me. Help me grow in faith and trust you more fully today. Amen.
Friday July 26 — Exodus 16:22-30
Early in the Israelites’ wilderness journey, they started complaining: they were hungry and thirsty and wanted to go back to Egypt. Exodus 16 tells us about God’s response to their needs. God gave them manna from heaven to sustain and strengthen them for their journey. For the first five days of the week, they received their daily bread (an answered prayer?). But on the sixth day of the week, they received enough for two days – so that, on the seventh day, they could keep the sabbath and rest. Do you see any parallels between the Israelites’ experience and your own?
• Prayer: Gracious God, I often pray, “give me this day my daily bread.” Help me to live with faith that you will answer the prayer that Jesus taught me to pray. Amen.
Saturday July 27 — Exodus 16:1-8
If we read the whole story we discover that the manna from heaven was not only a sign of God’s providence, it was a test (see Exodus 16:4-5). The Israelites had to learn to trust God’s promises. Keeping the sabbath was an act of faith and trust and some of the Israelites learned the lesson the hard way (see Exodus 16:27-28). It seems that by keeping the sabbath we not only demonstrate our trust in God – we grow in our trust in God. It is not easy to stop working and trust God. It takes practice. How might you practice keeping the sabbath this week?
• Prayer: Eternal God, like the Israelites in the wilderness, I struggle to keep the sabbath and trust your promises. Help me learn to keep the sabbath. Amen.