Something so small

Sunday Evening

Matthew 13

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Cones and seed of a Giant Sequoia, by Didier Descouens

31He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

I brought a hammer, pliers and screwdriver for the children’s message on Sunday. For each I had asked, “What is this for?” and received the expected answers, “to pound nails,” to “turn bolts,” to turn screws.”

I then pulled from my bag a seedpod from a liquidambar tree. It’s a little smaller than a golf ball, with spikey tendrils that snag easily in fur to help disperse the seeds far and wide. They used to get so tangled in the feathers of my childhood cocker spaniel that I had to cut them free with scissors. Jeremy identified them as “those things in the playground my sister hates.” They hurt when you step on them.

I then pulled out a small redwood seed cone, and from the cone a small redwood seed. I told him it was from the redwood trees outside, but he asked “what trees?” so we ducked out the vestry door to look at the five majestic spires. If you only come into the sanctuary from the direction of the parking lot, you may not notice them. But there, beneath the towering redwoods, Jeremy gave the remark that is the heart and soul of the parable of the mustard seed: “It’s amazing something so big could come from something so small.”

There was nothing more to say, really, though I had planned to. We walked back inside and I took the Bible from the lectern (properly called an ambo, it serves as both lectern and pulpit) and asked whether the Bible was more like the tools or the seed. And he answered without any hesitation, “the seed.”

I forget, sometimes, how clearly children see.

The Word of God is not a tool we use to craft objects or people of our own design; it is a seed that grows into the object of God’s design.

From the seed of God’s word grows hope, compassion, justice, mercy, patience, truthfulness, integrity, joy. From the seed of God’s word grew St. Patrick’s courage and compassion to go back as a missionary to the people who had captured and held him captive as a slave. From the seed of God’s word grew the courage to sit at lunch counters and to stand before fire hoses. From the seed of God’s word has grown a multitude of orphanages, clinics and hospitals and wells to bring clean water in remote places. From the seed of God’s word come millions of simple acts of kindness. From the seed of God’s word hearts are healed and lives grow into the image of Christ.

Scripture can be used as a tool to build a house of slavery; but the seed of the word grows into a community of freed people.

And “It’s amazing something so big could come from something so small.”

Choosing well

Wednesday

1 Kings 3

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Icon of King Solomon in the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night.

When we in the modern West hear an opening sentence like this, it sounds to us like “Once upon a time.” It is the introduction to a fairy tale.

We don’t trust dreams. They are not, for us, windows into the divine. They may be windows into the inner workings of our psychology, they may be voices of the subconscious, but they are not the voice of God.

Most of us don’t remember our dreams. Few of us pay attention to them. But most cultures do. Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, dreamt dreams that revealed the future. And Joseph, husband of Mary, dreamt dreams that saved the life of the child Jesus. We may hear them as children’s stories, but the ancients did not. Solomon has an authentic encounter with the divine – and what comes from that encounter is of great import.

5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”

There at the climax of the swiftly moving events surrounding David’s death, there in the tumult and political machinations over which of David’s many sons will gain the throne, Solomon emerges victorious. Nathan the prophet plays a part. Bathsheba plays a crucial role. Her son Solomon is not the eldest son. She is not the first wife. But racing to install him as king before Adonijah seizes the crown, they succeed in setting Solomon on the throne.

And why? Why should the kingdom go to another? For the next 400 years in Judah the crown will go to the eldest son. In the northern kingdom of Israel it will be different. There, coups and counter coups, rivalries and butcheries will be the pattern of power. But not in the southern kingdom. There it will be more or less orderly.

But David chooses Solomon. And where will God come down in this succession struggle? Will he side with the younger son, or will God side with the claims of heritage and social norms?

“Ask what I should give you.”

Much hangs on this question. Will Judah’s kingship pursue the familiar quest for glory, wealth and power? Or will Judah’s kingship journey towards a different goal?

Will God stand with Solomon if he chooses wealth and power? Or will God turn from David’s line as God turned away from Saul?

In this night Solomon is being tested, probed, questioned. Who will he show himself to be? What path will he choose? It is another narrative like Jacob wrestling God at the river Jabbok, or Abraham taking Isaac to the mountain. This is not royal propaganda; the heart of Solomon is being weighed. And the fate of the nation lies in the answer.

We are all tested. At some time or another choices have to be made, prayers are offered, a path chosen. And what shall I choose? What goal do I pursue? To what end do I lay down my life?

Solomon chooses wisdom; he chooses the care of his neighbor; he chooses the path that begins with the fear of the LORD.

The point of the story isn’t that Solomon got his cake and ate it, too; the point is that Solomon, who could have chosen anything, chose wisdom. He was tested at Gibeon and chose well.

Such a story doesn’t simply praise Solomon; it pries into our own hearts and asks how we have chosen – inviting us to choose anew today.

The wise see

Watching for the morning of July 27

Year A

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 12 / Lectionary 17

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Mustard seedling. Photocredit: Tess Watson

What you see now is a mere seed, but from the smallest of seeds, a surprising end awaits.

Jesus was not much to look at. He was not a member of any ruling family. He had no noble blood or title. He was a carpenter’s son, after all, perhaps a stonemason; he worked construction. What few could see was that he would be building a new world, a living temple, a true humanity.

We think of Solomon in all his glory – 500 wives and concubines and the wealth of the nations. But his prayer was for wisdom. Wisdom to rule wisely. Wisdom to understand the world God had fashioned. Wisdom to understand the meaning of life. Wisdom that begins in the commands of God.

Perhaps the narrative of Solomon at Gibeon is nothing more than political propaganda, but if so, it is propaganda that has become scripture. The king who follows David, the king who will carry forth the plan of building a holy nation and temple, should ask above all for wisdom. Kingships stand or fall on whether they seek the glory of the king or the glory of God – justice and mercy and care for the poor. Should Solomon seek wealth and power or a just nation that attends to God’s commands?

And so the psalmist adds his voice to these texts for Sunday, singing praise of that true wisdom which God has embodied in the Torah: God’s law, God’s teaching, God’s path for the people.

Wisdom sees what is of true value: the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field, the home for the birds that shall grow from the tiniest seed, the reign of God that is hidden in humble beginnings of the man from Nazareth. Those who are wise will give everything to gain it.

The Prayer for July 27, 2014

O God, your promises never fail
and your purpose for the world
will be brought to its fulfillment in Christ Jesus.
Grant us wisdom to recognize the riches of your grace
and to live now the joy that awaits us;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for July 27, 2014

First Reading: 1 Kings 3:5-12
“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” – After David’s death, Solomon gains the throne and comes to worship at the ancient holy site of Gibeon where he asks God for wisdom.

Psalmody: Psalm 119:129-136
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” – In a majestic tour de force in praise of God’s law/teaching/word, the poet celebrates the guiding commands of God in 22 8-line strophes that proceed from Aleph to Taw (A to Z) with each of the 8 lines in every strophe begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Second Reading: Romans 8:26-39
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
– Paul’s argument that God has reconciled us to himself through Christ by God’s favor (grace) apprehended by our trust in his promise (faith) now culminates in an ecstatic declaration that nothing in the heavens or on earth can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field.” – From unlikely beginnings – a tiny seed, a bit of yeast – comes an extraordinary end, so it is with the reign of God. What is sown looks frail and powerless – a Galilean rabble and a crucified ‘messiah’ – but from it will come an exceptional harvest. Like a merchant finding a priceless pearl or a farmer finding a great treasure, the wise will do all in their power to obtain it.

Unimagined

Wednesday

Matthew 13

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The Sower, Vincent van Gogh

3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.

Parables are like jokes; they consist of a story that carries the hearer along expected pathways, then takes a sudden and surprising turn. In a joke, that turn makes us laugh as we reframe what we have heard. So the parable tells a story, and in the ‘surprise’ we are forced to reconsider what we assumed at the beginning. It prods us to see God, ourselves and the world differently – if we have ears to hear; sometimes people don’t get the joke.

So what is the surprise in this familiar parable of the sower and the seed? (Just as familiarity can kill a joke, it can kill a parable.) A sower sowing is no surprise. Neither is the fact that when you sow there is an inevitable and unavoidable loss to birds and weeds and the path. The surprise in this parable of Jesus is the extravagance of the harvest. Instead of “you still get a modest return, enough to feed your family,” you get a harvest far beyond anything you could imagine. A 100, 60, even 30-fold harvest is nothing less than miraculous. Such a harvest is incomprehensible.

So Jesus is out here, healing a few who are sick and preaching to villages in the backwater of the world. And his word is mocked by some, ignored or corrupted by others, and hated by still others. From such meager sowing one might expect a few followers, but the fruit of this word is beyond all comprehension. The world is forever changed. We are forever changed.

We tend to hear a moral imperative in this story: be good soil. Don’t let the evil one snatch away the word from you. Don’t let it get choked by weeds. But the message is in the surprise: despite all the obstacles, the word that is sown will reap a harvest beyond all imagining. The parable is not about us; it is about the power of God’s message.

We lose faith in the power of grace sometimes. We lose faith in compassion, in forgiveness, in charity, in kindness. We lose faith in the gospel. Against the might of Rome, against the ‘hosts of wickedness in heavenly places’ (RSV), how can a message of love and forgiveness prevail?

“A hundredfold” says Jesus. “A hundredfold.”

Abundant mercy

Watching for the morning of July 13

Year A

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 10 / Lectionary 15

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James Tissot, The Sower

The texts this Sunday overflow with rich and abundant mercy. That a nation should so betray its heritage as to come to absolute ruin, its temple and palace and holy city reduced to rubble and plundered of all that was precious, its people scattered to the winds or carried off into exile – that such a nation could find mercy in the wilderness is beyond comprehension. But “my ways are not like your ways,” says the LORD – God forgives. Through the prophet, God proclaims that his word of grace is unstoppable: like rain bringing forth a harvest, it will achieve its purpose of bringing his people home.

The psalmist, too, speaks of water, of the rich abundance of water that God provides to an arid land, and the bounty of joy that flows from hills alive in fresh green. It is, in its own way, a resurrection.

The reading from Paul begins with that sweet line, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The grace of God has done what the law could not do, create a holy people, a people alive with God’s Holy Spirit.

And so we come to that fabulous parable of the sower scattering the seed freely and widely, recklessly, lavishly. Despite all that might fall among the birds and the weeds and the stony ground, there is an abundant harvest. God lavishes mercy on the world – and it comes back thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

The Prayer for July 13, 2014

Gracious God,
you lavish your grace and life upon a world
where it is often trampled underfoot
yet, where your Word takes root, the harvest overflows.
Let your Word take root in our lives,
and bear fruit abundantly in love for you and our neighbor;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for July 13, 2014

First Reading: Isaiah 55:6-13
“You shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace.” – Like the rain that waters the earth to bring forth its bounty, God’s promise of forgiveness and return to the land shall not fail to achieve its purpose.

Psalmody: Psalm 65:5, 8-13
“You visit the earth and water it.” – A hymn of praise to God who provides abundantly for the world.

Second Reading: Romans 8:1-11
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
– God creates a faithful people not through the commands of the law, but through the working of his Spirit.

Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
“Listen! A sower went out to sow.” – Jesus provides a parable of the kingdom about a surprising harvest though the seed grain is gobbled up by birds and strangled amidst weeds.

Who knows what?

Sunday Evening

Matthew 11

File:Cristo nel labirinto.jpg27No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

It sounds more like the Gospel of John than one of the synoptics. “Do you not know me Phillip? He who has seen me has seen the father.” “The Father and I are one.” But here it is, in the middle of Matthew’s Gospel.

There is a certain proverbial character to this statement. In that time and place the eldest son was the father’s representative. To do business with one was to do business with the other. To have the word of one was to have the word of the other. People were defined by their families. To know the Father was to know the son. People were not seen as individuals in that day but part of extended families.

And families kept family business private. Public reputation mattered. Family secrets were never shared. Such information could be used against them. What might be revealed would only be revealed to family.

So to sayNo one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son” is something of a tautology, a truth everyone would recognize. What’s different is that Jesus is not speaking about Joseph. The thunderclap in this simple little aphorism is that Jesus is speaking about God and himself.

Jesus is the one with insider knowledge about God.

Everyone talks as if they know who God is and what God wants. It is a hubris of our time. Protesters at rallies for marriage or for life carry signs declaring God’s thoughts with absolute certainty. Clergy from liberal traditions wear their collars to union rallies to declare God’s support for some piece of legislation. We do not say “Thus and so seems best to us in light of what we read in scripture so far as we understand it, though others read it differently.” We say God is on this or that side. Even those who state categorically that there is no God are declaring what they cannot know.

The God of the scriptures is clothed in mystery. He appears at Sinai hidden in a cloud. He appears to Abraham in the form of a man. He appears to Moses in a burning bush. The prophet Isaiah says “Truly thou art a God who hidest theyself.” Ezekiel’s strange and compelling vision of God is not a vision of God, but a vision of “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.”

We should be much more cautious about what we claim we know. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son.”

But then there is this sweet addition: “and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

The God who hides himself is revealed by the Son in the healing of the sick, in the feeding of the hungry, in the releasing of debts, in the raising of the dead, in acts of mercy and justice, in words and actions that call us to regard all people as members of our own clan – even the soldiers asserting Roman rule in the homeland of others.

The God who hides himself is revealed in the Son who welcomes outcasts and forgives sinners and washes his followers feet.

The God who hides himself is revealed in the Son who lays down his life and meets Mary at the tomb and sends his followers to all nations.

Jesus is the one with insider knowledge about God. He has chosen to reveal this much to us and not too much more. We should not be afraid to say what we know of the Son – just careful with what we think we know of God.

It is easy to get this wrong, but so important to get it right.

Thimbleberry jam

Saturday

Psalm 145

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Thimbleberry, photocredit: Walter Siegmund

14The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

There are so many things in these texts for Sunday that are pricelessly sweet. It is important to remember that the Christian faith is not dry toast but toast slathered with butter and a generous layer of thimbleberry jam.

I had my first thimbleberry hiking with my daughter, Anna, on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Yes, everything tastes better when hiking – but the thimbleberries we discovered on the trail tasted like a champagne. They had an effervescence that roused your mouth with joy. There is a monastery in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that makes a wild thimbleberry jam that a friend brought for me as a gift. It reminds me of Anna, that summer, and all the sweetness and joy of life.

It is important to remember that the Christian faith is not dry toast but toast slathered with butter and a generous layer of thimbleberry jam.

The ship of the church in our time and country seems to be listing heavily to port or to starboard. Either the message of the church is all grace and no summons to follow – or all summons and no word of grace. We can’t quite seem to get this balance right that we are being called to take up our cross and follow – and that this is an easy yoke that brings rest for our souls. It is toast and jam. Not just jam. Not just toast. But toast with jam – and toast with jam can never be just toast or all jam. It is always a discipleship energized by joy.

“Take my yoke upon you.” There is a yoke. There is a service. There is a lord before whom we bow.   There are commands to be obeyed. Tithing is not a suggestion. Hospitality, forgiveness, generosity, holding your tongue, loving your neighbor, are not strategies for a more rewarding life; this is the path set before us. But it is a path lighted by the brilliance of Easter morning. It is followed amidst the song of redemption.

Christian faith is not dry toast but toast slathered with butter and a generous layer of thimbleberry jam.

Matthew 11

29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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Thimbleberry blossom, photocredit: Walter Siegmund

Woe to you, Chorazin

Friday

Matthew 11

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Ancient Synagogue in Korazim Israel.

Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

These verses are omitted by our assigned reading. They stand between Jesus’ remark about the fickle response of the people to those God has sent:

18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

and his prayer of thanks:

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

The Phoenician city/kingdoms of Tyre and Sidon were not the great military powers that threatened ancient Israel – they were the great cultural and economic powers, wealthy, prestigious, traversing the Mediterranean with the wealth of the nations.

It is Tyre that teaches Jerusalem how to build a proper palace and temple. It is Sidon that forms an alliance with Israel sealed by the marriage of Ahab to the Sidonian princess Jezebel. It is Jezebel who sets out to replace Israel’s archaic faith with a modern, progressive understanding of the gods – the worship of Ba’al, the god of the storm, the source of rain, the bringer of fertility and prosperity and his consort, Ashtoreth (Astarte). It is Jezebel who teaches Ahab about “modern” kingship and the use of power, arranging Naboth’s murder in order to seize his vineyard for a garden.

It is Jezebel who vows to murder Elijah after the great showdown on Mount Carmel that results in the people rising up to slaughter the priests of Ba’al.

Had these cities, symbols of idolatry, seen what the towns of Galilee had seen and heard in Jesus, they would surely have repented – changed their allegiance from gods of wealth and fertility to the LORD who rescues slaves, defends the poor and delivers the needy. They would have embraced the reign of God dawning in Jesus.

It’s a little like saying Wall Street and Washington would become models of piety and compassion, servants of justice and the poor.

Woe to us, how shameful, that we have seen the majesty and mystery of God in this Jesus and do not acknowledge that he is of God, that he speaks the eternal truths, shows the path of our true humanity, and brings to us God’s gifts of healing and life.

There is nothing here or elsewhere in the Scriptures that celebrates ignorance when it critiques “the wise and intelligent”; these words challenge the elites of society whose attachment is to the world they have created rather than to the world God is creating. They may be wise about war and politics and the manipulation of markets; but they are ‘fools’ when it comes to that which is eternal and enduring. Their allegiance is to Rome rather than the New Jerusalem, to their power and privilege rather than the justice and compassion of God.

But some have seen: the poor, the indebted, the enslaved, the wounded, the outcast – the powerless and inconsequential ‘infants’ of the day – they have seen and welcomed the dawning kingdom. And for these who see Jesus gives thanks to God. In the mystery of God’s working, these are the ones who change the world.

Sherry glasses

Thursday

Matthew 11

Sherry glasses.blog18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

My father’s mother was a feisty woman, small, thin, tough. She had a wrist full of bangles and a cigarette in her mouth as she whipped cream by hand. She made the most exquisite Danish sweets – and frikadeller to die for. Everyone gathered in the kitchen to watch her do the Danish potatoes, in the vain hope we could replicate her feat of beautiful small round potatoes in a perfect thin brown glaze. She could drop you with a Charlie horse – her knuckle into your thigh – and could drop over from her heart condition anytime she was losing an argument. She was raised in an upper middleclass home in Denmark, married an instructor in the Danish agricultural college who was doing sugar beet research in the Ukraine when the Russian revolution broke out. He was invited to America by a sugar beet company (as a researcher, so he had been led to believe, but when he arrived he discovered they brought him here to farm). So this woman who had never done domestic work became a farm wife who survived the dustbowl and depression in America.

She was a wonderful woman. And no story captures her best to me than her tale about welcoming every new pastor when he called on her in her senior housing. She offered him a sherry. If he took the sherry, he wasn’t good enough to be a pastor. If he refused the sherry, he couldn’t relate to ordinary people. Either way she had him. (At that time they were still all men.)

I thought for a while that the secret was to accept the sherry but not drink it but then realized that would have been the worst of all – wasting perfectly good sherry.

When Farmor died, I asked to inherit her sherry glasses.

Congregations are like this. Maybe it’s a quality of religious people. Maybe it’s a characteristic of our humanity. We say, “There’s no pleasing some people,” but it’s more than some people. We all have a remarkable ability to set ourselves up as judge.

Sometimes the consequences are tragic. The elites of Jerusalem dismissed John as too rigorous and Jesus as too liberal and received neither prophetic voice. They missed the time of their visitation.

It is amazingly easy for us not to hear what we don’t want to hear. We dismiss the message for some fault we find in the messenger. And since there are always faults to be found, we need never listen.

So we hear the preacher say that Jesus tells us to love our enemies or forgive those who sin against us – and though we don’t necessarily criticize Jesus, we criticize his spokesmen and women and keep on as we always have, nursing our grievances and perpetuating our hates. We gossip about the one who tells us that God commands us not to gossip. We ignore the message because of the messenger.

But then we cannot gain the kingdom.

The messengers are frail. This is part of the mystery of the incarnation. God comes to us in a human being (Jesus) and through human beings (one another). God comes to us through the human voice and human hands and through bread, wine and water that are taken from the soil and worked by human hands.

The messengers are frail. But we do not imagine that Christ does not come to us in the bread because we don’t like the taste or texture of it. And Christ is still in the wine whether it is red, white or golden. And Christ still speaks through our sisters and brothers whether they are too serious or too playful.

We are not listening to the messengers; we are listening to the voice of Jesus that comes to us through them. As messengers – we are all messengers – we should try to be worthy of the message. But the point is the message not the messenger. Unless we are not interested in the message at all, but only – like the Jerusalem elite – in retaining our power and privilege, our comfort and convenience. In which case, neither John nor Jesus matters.

But our loss is great.

Rest

Wednesday

Matthew 11

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Fresco in Kariye Camii (Kariye Kilisesi) in Edirnekapı, Fatih, İstanbul. In his hand, Christ holds the Gospels open to Matthew 11:28

28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Rest is not a small word in Israel. On the seventh day God rested: the work of creation moves towards rest. The slaves God delivered from Egypt were commanded to observe a day of rest, rest not just for themselves but for their servants and animals. Even the fields were to have a Sabbath rest. Rest is in the fabric of creation and it is our salvation. The Book of Hebrews speaks of the age to come as our Sabbath rest.

The Sabbath is a unique covenantal sign of Israel, an ever-abiding command. The neglect of the Sabbath was one of the reasons for God’s judgment against Jerusalem, and honoring of the Sabbath one of the defining marks of the faithful eunuchs and foreigners God welcomes into his sanctuary.

Jews were mocked by Roman society for giving slaves a day off. The Pharisees defended it forcefully – even against Jesus’ attempts to heal and free on the Sabbath. But Jesus rebuked them for failing to understand the Sabbath. Sabbath is not a ritual obligation; it is the day of salvation, the day of new creation.

So in this simple and familiar promise, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” Jesus is speaking a profound word. “I will give you rest.” I bring you God’s Sabbath. I give the rest God intended for us. I give deliverance. I bring the day of salvation. I lift the burden of humanity’s weary labor by the sweat of their brow. I restore humanity to those days when God walked through the garden in the cool of the evening. I make all things new.

This is far more than a promise to weary field hands and servants. It is the invitation to enter the reign of God, into the realm of the spirit, into the world of joy and life and peace, to dwell in God’s grace and compassion, to become sons and daughters of the Most High, to live the kingdom.

Jesus does not do away with the Sabbath, he fulfills it. He brings our true rest, our healing, our wholeness, the fullness of our humanity. And he invites us to live it.