By Krissa Rumsey
It would’ve been easy to leave church yesterday feeling guilty. (Although, don’t all sermons have the ability to convict and cause guilt? They’re probably not Lutheran sermons if they don’t—insert smiley face here.) Perhaps because yesterday’s sermon was about God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy, and it was actually the Sabbath, the guilt was imminent.
As the sermon unfolded, my mind went to reasons why keeping the Sabbath holy just wasn’t going to happen in the way I’m sure God would’ve preferred. “But school starts in two days and we aren’t quite ready.” And then, “But it’s the last day of summer as we know it, and we must engage in fun activities so that our kids will have one more thing to describe when asked to respond to the age-old writing activity, ‘What I did last summer.’” And yet another thought, “Have you seen the amount of laundry at my house?” I am famous in my house for espousing the belief that if there is free time to be had, it must be productive.
It would’ve been easy to leave church yesterday feeling guilty.
I know this is not a healthy perspective, so not only do I feel guilty for not keeping the Sabbath as I should, but I feel guilty for encouraging the kind of existence for myself and my family that keeps us so busy it’s difficult to rest. Why are the kids in so many activities? Why does the house have to be spotless (which it never is)? Why do we need to be on the go, all the time? Why do I have to spend time finding and making that perfect recipe with all the zucchini from my garden instead of spending that time in prayer or Bible study with my family? “Leave the zucchini alone,” I can hear the Lord calmly say. And then Mark 2:27 kicks in. “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Imagine the Sabbath day being handed over as a gift. “This is for you,” says the Lord. I love this image. Being given a gift rather than a command flips God’s directive for this day completely on its head.
Imagine the Sabbath day being handed over as a gift. “This is for you,” says the Lord.
The Lord knows we struggle and get caught up in the rat race. During the sermon, as my mind began trapping me in the box of guilt, I heard the Lord say, “Just be with me.” I often feel like Martha, who was distracted by preparations when The Lord came to visit. In Luke 10:41, He says to her, “Martha, Martha you are worried and bothered about so many things.” Pastor emphasized that all of our distractions won’t be removed just because it’s the Sabbath, and we aren’t supposed to get caught up in the fact that we are not going to get it exactly right. God did not intend for His gift to create guilt and further separation from Him.
God did not intend for His gift to create guilt and further separation from Him.
I left church thinking about the day as His gift…an opportunity to stop and just be. As Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet when He came to her house instead of Martha who gave in to the distractions, we have permission to stop our busyness. Try as I might, an orderly house and a busy life will not bring me or my family closer to Him. So, I will attempt to let the dust collect, let the weeds grow, even encourage my children turn in “B” homework rather than “A” homework on Monday, if that means spending more time at rest with Him (Really? This last one might be worth some discussion.). But the sermon reminded me that even if I do feel required to spend large quantities of time doing laundry—on the Sabbath or on any day—I can do it while acknowledging His presence and being with Him, remembering that He exists to take away the guilt, and make both our times of rest and times of work joyful.
Listen to Matt Redman sing The Heart of Worship.
Check out Sunday’s Sermons.