Church of All Nations
Sabbath and Sacrifice
*expanded from ANIC resources
Reflections on Sabbath and Sacrifice
Walter Brueggemann says, “Sabbath becomes a decisive, concrete, visible way of opting for and aligning with the God of rest.” Sabbath in our modern age is something that is very hard to take seriously. There are stores open, demands on our time, and a constant need to work. Advocating for rest on the Sabbath is a move toward Christ, and is a sign of trust in him. He has gifted us with a day of rest, and I believe it is very important to take. Matthew 12:8 says, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Learning how to truly rest, and trust that God will provide, that we don’t always need to work is a move toward trust. From the Psalm reading today it says, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say “You are my God.” Taking Sabbath rest is saying, yes God, I choose to trust and I will take your gift of rest seriously.
Lent is a beautiful time to practice Sabbath. Although we are nearly through this Lenten season, what would it look like to take a day of rest. What would restorative rest look like? Would it look like taking a long peaceful walk? Having a delicious meal and a long nap? Rest is very personal, but it is a way to put our trust in God, and enjoy the gift of rest. This Lent, let’s take the gift of rest seriously.
What do we need to sacrifice in our lives in order to make more room for Christ? Over Lent, many people practice the spiritual discipline of fasting. This is a practical reminder of the need to give up some things in order to spend time in prayer, in rest, in silence, and allow time to love your neighbor and give to those in need.
I am always inspired by the story in today’s gospel reading about the woman from Bethany who broke open her alabaster jar and poured ointment of nard on Jesus’ head. Many individuals in this story and around this woman called it wasted. To her it was a beautiful sacrifice because the ointment would have been very expensive. With this sacrifice she anointed the head of Jesus, in a pre-burial fashion. This sacrifice prepared the way for Christ. What are the things in our life that we need to sacrifice in order to create more time and space to sit in conversation with Jesus, and to love our neighbor? This lent is a great time to consider sacrifice, and spend some time in prayer as you consider where sacrifices could be made in your own life.
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.