As a boy I remember the hustle and bustle of Sunday morning. I wasn’t always the swiftest out the door in the morning. It was a lot of work getting everything ready, picking out our Sunday best and making ourselves presentable. Unfortunately the work didn’t stop when we got to church. It had only begun! Then we had to sit through the worship service! My Dad’s a good preacher, so that softened the effort, but as an energetic little boy, a distracted adolescent, a lethargic college student, and even as an adult, I felt like it was work to get through that worship service. That is, until the true meaning of the 3rd Commandment really hit me. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”
The word Sabbath is a Hebrew word that literally means “rest.” Its origins go back to creation, when God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. We also remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, by keeping it “set apart.” So, what kind of rest are we talking about? How do we set it apart? The Old Testament talks about resting from our work. The New Testament Pharisees took that too far and made not working so difficult it became work! Jesus came and told them that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk. 2:27) God set apart a day for us to rest. But what is rest?
In order to answer the question about rest, we need to see where work came from. When God made the world, we had a perfect place that provided for us abundantly. Genesis 3 describes man’s fall into sin and Adam’s punishment from God. Adam would have to work the soil in and “sweat” and “painful toil” until he returned to the ground. It is because of sin that we must work as we do. True rest is the world before sin. True rest is living in the forgiveness of our sins. True rest is the confidence that by God’s grace, through faith in him, we will one day walk in a new creation without sin. Take a deep breath. Imagine that rest. It’s the rest described in Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want…”
Worship = Rest
Our Sabbath day is Sunday because Jesus defeated death on a Sunday. He rose from the dead and gave us confidence that we would also live after we have died. So, what do we do on this day of rest? We worship. It’s perfect! Six days we have labored hard being an ambassador of Jesus in this sinful world. Six days of sweat and painful toil. Six days we’ve been bloodied and bruised. It’s time to rest. It’s time to gather with other believers who are also equally bloodied and bruised by the week. It’s time to confess our sins and be reassured of God’s forgiveness. It’s time to hear God’s word and be strengthened in our faith. It’s time to receive the body and blood of Jesus in the sacrament and be filled. It’s time to share the stories of each other’s WaterLife as we live our baptism as ambassadors of Jesus. Take a deep breath. It’s your Sabbath. It’s time to be with the Jesus-followers and rest in Him. Monday we’ll be back to work. It’s the rhythm of life. Sunday we worship. We rest.