Summary: Sabbath is a gift from God for the health of our soul.

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Sabbath and Soul Health March 18, 2007

Mark 2:23-28

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

25 He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."

27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

Last week when we talked about keeping the Sabbath, some of you talked about how difficult Sundays were when you were a child – basically imprisoned in your room until Sunday was over! The Sabbath was seen as a burden, not a blessing. The Pharisees had the same take on the Sabbath – for them it was supposed to be a burden, and they had many rules about what was allowed and what was not allowed on the Sabbath to keep it burdensome.

What Jesus says in Verse 27 tells me that God gave us the Sabbath as a gift, not as a burden.

The problem: busyness

It is a western problem, but it is definitely a Toronto problem.

We greet one another by asking “Keeping busy?” and if we were bold enough to say “No.” we would be asked “what’s wrong?” We often respond to the question, “how are you?” by saying we are busy. It is our excuse for not catching up with friends, or family.

We are afraid to stop the busyness, because there is so much to get done. But we find that it doesn’t work. The old Pennsylvanian Dutch saying is true: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

The story of Mark Buchanan’s grandma-in-law p 42-43

Is not our busyness just like her sanding? We are working frantically at dream and eroding that which is important to us.

I have said before that the Greeks have two words for time: the one that we know most is chronos, from which we get our words chronology, chronicle, chronic. This is the meaning of time that we have when we say “time marches on.”

Chronos was a minor god in the Greek pantheon. He was a nasty deity, a glutton, and a cannibal who gorged himself on his own children. He was always consuming, never satisfied.

The other word for Time is Kairos. This is time as a gift, as opportunity, as season. It is time pregnant with purpose. In kairos time, you do not ask What time is it?’ “But what is time for?”

Which time do you live in – chronos time that keeps marching on, and devours its young? Or Kairos time that savors the moment? Sabbath teaches us to live in Kairos time.

I was told that the Chinese two characters to form a single symbol for busyness: heart and killing.

Buchanan writes: One measure… p 48

Are you living in busyness? Serving Chronos who eats his young? Killing your soul? Loosing the things that you know are important?

The cure for busyness is the gift of Sabbath rest.

The solution – Sabbath rest

Keeping the Sabbath is a rejection of Cronos, and a stepping into Kairos. Keeping the Sabbath is fasting from our busyness one day a week, it is fasting from that which is killing us! Sabbath is a weekly practice of stilling ourselves and taking rest, so that even in the rest of the week, we have a still soul, and we are able to remember what is important.

We can know God in our busyness, he is there, but there is a way to know God that we can only do in stillness. “Be still, and know that I am God” he says in Psalm 46

God so wants us to live in the life giving rest, that he commands it. It is a gift that we are commanded to receive. And then if we still refuse to rest, God will at times force us to receive it.

In that great Psalm 23, the psalmist writes “he makes me to lie down in green pastures” If we don’t choose to lie down, he makes us.

I heard that if a shepherd has a sheep that refuses to stay near to him and the flock, he may take the extreme action of breaking the sheep’s leg, so that it must stay close, and in it’s healing time it learns to stay close.

Has God ever done that to you – made you lie down in green pastures? Broke your leg to make you rest. I can’t help but wonder if the plethora of stress-related illnesses that we have today are not God making us take the Sabbaths that we have not taken

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