We are enculturated in a society that does everything it can to index our heart into more. A cultural practice of more. Is there a practice from the way of Jesus to deculture our heart away from the culture of more and toward life with Jesus and his world? Yes, of course, it is the Sabbath. Now, we left off last week with this idea of Sabbath as Rhythm from Genesis and the story there, where God created the world in six days in that telling of the story. And then on the seventh he rested, and in doing so, he built a rhythm into the fabric of creation. We made that point a week ago. If you were not here, listen to the podcast. But the rhythm of Western culture for most of us is very different. It sounds a lot more like work more, buy more, repeat. So if last week was about Sabbath as Rhythm, this week, I want to talk to you about Sabbath as Resistance. To begin. Take another look with me at Exodus, chapter 20, verse eight. Let's read it one more time. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all of your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath to Yahweh, your God, On it you shall not do any work. Not you and not your son or daughter, not your male or female servant, not your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For six days, Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them. But he rested on the seventh day." Even God [rested]. "Therefore, Yahweh blessed the seventh day and made it holy." Now notice one thing we did not have time for last week was that the command is twofold, right? Not only are we to rest on the seventh, but what are we to do the six days before? Work. That's actually embedded in the command for six days. You are to work, work and rest. Live in a symbiotic relationship. Work is a good thing. But if all you do in life is work over time, you grind your soul into the ground. On the flip side, rest is wonderful, but if all you do is rest-- (Which is a problem for some of us, less and less with the cost of rent now and our city. Especially if you're living off the vestige of old Portland where people used to go to retire and somehow your rent is where it was five years ago.) --then your life will very quickly become empty of meaning and significance. Both overwork and underwork rob us of the capacity to live as God intended. Stay with me. That's all review.


I want to show you something really fun to Bible nerd out on you. Just turn over to Deuteronomy. Just a few pages to the right. Deuteronomy chapter five. Now, if you're new to the Library of Scripture, the first five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are called the Torah. That's a Hebrew word, meaning law, or another translation is teaching. And these five books of Torah tell a story that takes place over a number of decades. In fact, there are forty years between the Book of Exodus and the Book of Deuteronomy. Not only that, but they are written to two different generations. Exodus has written to the first generation right out of slavery in Egypt. If you know the story, I mean, [it's] literally right out at the base of Mount Sinai. Deuteronomy is written to that generation's children on the edge of the wilderness, right on the edge of the Jordan River, about to step into Canaan. Now, Deuteronomy is from two Greek words, deutero (meaning twice or second), and nomos meaning law. Deuteronomy literally means a second law or a second Torah. And here's why. Exodus was written, as I said, from Mt. Sinai, middle of the desert to that first generation. Deuteronomy [from the] edge of the Jordan to the second. So in Deuteronomy, Moses calls together that entire generation's children who were not in the exodus, who were not in slavery in Egypt, and he retells the Torah, or at least the salient points of the Torah, to the next generation. Here in chapter five, he retells the Ten Commandments. I just want to read it to you and I want you to catch something. Take a look at Deuteronomy, chapter five, verse twelve. "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy as the Lord Your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath to Yahweh your God on you shall not do any work. Not you, not your son, not your daughter, not your male nor female servant." Definitely don't work your ox, your donkey or any of your animals. Some of you have chickens I'm guessing, maybe or whatever? "Nor any foreigner residing in your town so that you are male and female servants may rest as you do remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord, your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, therefore. Yahweh, your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." Now, did you catch that? Is it the same or is it a little bit different? It's a little bit different. It's been changed for the second iteration to kind of significant changes made to the Sabbath command. First, notice that the first word is changed from remember the Sabbath to observe the Sabbath. And then the second phrase as the Lord, your God has commanded you. In Hebrew, the word for observe is shamar, and it means to keep watch over or to guard or to protect. It's the word used for Adam and the Garden of Eden and Genesis chapter two. But "observe" is a great translation. Merriam-Webster defines "observe" as to celebrate or solemnize something such as a ceremony or a festival and a customary or accepted way. So think of how we observe a holiday. The etymology of that is a holy day such as Christmas or Easter or May the 4th. Whatever your religion of choice is, that is the idea. The Sabbath is like a weekly holiday, a weekly holy day like Christmas every week, but without the stress and the weird uncle. It is a day that we are to celebrate and we are to observe. It was to keep watch over it, to guard and and even protect it as a day. That is not like all the other days. In the Kiddush, which is the ancient Hebrew liturgy that you begin the Sabbath with. And that word kiddush means to sanctify, to make holy. So think of that command, to keep it holy. So it's a liturgy by which you begin to sanctify our set apart a day for rest and worship in it if you know it or if you practice it. The mother in the tradition lights two candles at the table to begin the Sabbath meal and asks the children what do the candles of Sabbath symbolize. The children, if they are little and cute, say "remember and observe" and it's in whatever accent they of their choice for the two versions of the Ten Commandments. "Remember the Sabbath" in Exodus and "Observe the Sabbath" in Deuteronomy. We do this in the Comer house. It was really cute and cool when the kids were little and now [my son] Jude's like thirteen is like Dad, that is so lame. "Remember and observe." Right. But that's change one. It's from remember to observe and that's not very large of a change. It's not that big of a deal. But then the next one is much larger. So notice from there it's verbatim. It's exactly the same six days. You should labor to do all your work until you get to the end. The word "towns" is the end in Exodus. Then there's one phrase added so that your male and female servants may rest as you do, and then the entire ending is different. Fifteen. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and Yahweh your God brought you out of there in Exodus. It's "for in six days." The reason, the motivation behind the Sabbath is, hey, "for in six days God created the heavens and the earth, the sea, all that is in them. But he rested on the seventh day, blessed it made a holy." End quote. But in Deuteronomy it's "remember that you were slaves in Egypt, same command, different reason or motivation behind the command." As with all of the practices, it's key that you get the why behind it. Otherwise it becomes just another rule on top of your already over full life. In Exodus, the rationale behind the Sabbath command is grounded in the story of creation and Deuteronomy. It's grounded in the story of redemption. In Exodus at Sinai, it's about rhythm, but in Deuteronomy it's about resistance. At Sinai, it's an invitation to delight in God, in his world and in all that is good and beautiful and true in your life in it. But in Deuteronomy, it is a warning to never go back to Egypt again. At Sinai, the Sabbath is just this life giving art form that we tap into for soul and society, health and flourishing. And Deuteronomy, it is a punk rock, stick it to the man street protest against Egypt and its empire.Now, a little bit of background for all of you that are not ancient Near Eastern Hebrews or Babylonians in the story. Okay, that wasn't funny. Well, that won't happen at the 7:00 [service]. Long day. I apologize. In the story of the Exodus, there's all sorts of language about restlessness. For example, here's an excerpt from one paragraph: "Why are you taking people away from their labor? Get back to your work." Or, "you are stopping them from working" or, quote, "make the people work harder so that they will keep working" or Pharaoh said: "lazy, that's what you are, lazy, that is why you keep saying, 'let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.' Now get to work, you will not be given any straw yet. You must produce your full quota of bricks."


By the way, that's just from a paragraph in one chapter point being in the story, Pharaoh is a brutal tyrant. No matter how hard the Hebrews work, he's just ruthless and relentless in story after story. No matter how hard they worked, it was never enough. Hebrews lived under the oppressive yoke of the daily quota. More, more, more. And it wasn't just Pharaoh. It was Egypt as a whole and its socioeconomic system. Israel in the story was making bricks to build supplies, cities, entire cities just to store all of Pharaoh and his rich friends' extra stuff. Egypt's appetite for more was insatiable, and all of this was justified by the Egyptian pantheon, by the gods of the empire. There was never enough, never enough food, never enough drink, never enough goods, never enough services, never enough wealth, never even enough grain. It's bizarre. There's this anxiety that you see and Pharaoh kind of like a John Paul Getty, like has everything in the world. And still he's nervous about what if I lose my Hebrews? What if I lose my supply cities? What if I still don't have enough? It was an economic system that was built on the back of slavery to get to the lavish, opulent lifestyle of a pharaoh or an Egypt. You need cheap labor, whether that comes through slaves or another workforce to work while you rest. And slaves don't get a Sabbath. Slaves to the oppressor are subhuman, a commodity to buy and sell. They only have value in what they produce. They work all day, every day until they die. Rest, in this story is what comes to people who have been set free by God, not just from slavery, but from the socioeconomic system of an Egypt that is in turn legitimized by the false gods of empire. That is what the Exodus is about. The Exodus story, if you know it, is the paradigm, all the library of scripture up to Jesus and his teachings, the writings of the New Testament beyond him. For all of them, Exodus is the paradigm for what salvation is about. It is about freedom from slavery to a socioeconomic system that is justified by the spirituality or the false gods of empire. So the command here in Deuteronomy is to remember. To the first generation that did not grow up in slavery. Remember, remember, remember, your parents story is your story. Remember that one, you are not slaves anymore. You're not in Egypt anymore. You are under a new king and a new kingdom. There's no quota. There's no supply cities. There's no taskmaster to beat you. If you don't work hard enough, you're not a slave anymore. Never forget it. Secondly, remember that you are not the slave drivers and make sure you never become one. Hence the command to former slaves who are now. Did you pick that up? And the men who are now masters to never become the oppressor themself. Hence the commands about how you treat your male or female servant, your animals, the foreigner or the immigrant among you. This was social justice. We'll talk about it in a bit. That was millennia ahead of its time. All are to experience the Sabbath, not just Pharaoh and his rich friends -- every single person in the community of God. And three, remember that you are image bearers of God. That is who you are. You are not what you do. You are not what you produce or don't produce. You are not the value that you add. You are who you are loved by. Sabbath was a weekly reminder of Israel's identity. It was a statement to Israel and to the watching world that Israel is different. It's not the same.


There's a saying that Israel kept the Sabbath and the Sabbath kept Israel. Whatever you think about the modern state of Israel, just to get into a little sociopolitical, you know, controversy, just to lighten the mood, whatever you think about it, hopefully we all agree it's a miracle. We have no as far as I'm aware, no other example of an ancient ethnic group surviving for nearly two millennia without land, without government, without representation and not getting assimilated into the host culture. One of the reasons when historians and sociologists study the story of the Jewish people, usually at the top of the list is the practice of Sabbath, partially because under Jewish law, too much walking was considered work. They actually set a limit on how far you could walk each Sabbath, which meant that you had to live with then I think it's a quarter mile of your synagogue. So to this day and our city, where do Orthodox Jews live? They live in the Alphabet District, or they live in Hillsdale. You want to experience the Sabbath, a community that has been cultivating this practice for three and a half millennia, just take a drive through Hillsdale on a Saturday morning, watch the families walking to synagogue together. Imagine what that would do for our community if all of us lived within a quarter mile of here. All of us had to walk to church every single day. Can you imagine what that would do to keep our community intact for millennia? This practice all the way back to Daniel on the first exile to Babylon. This practice and others is what kept Israel from getting sucked into a pagan and then later secular society from getting assimilated into the host culture. It was a subversive story that Israel was to live by that, to say we are different, we are not the same. Sabbath was a line in the sand. It was a way of saying we will never go back to Egypt, we will never become Egypt, we will live free. And we need this practice. We need this line in the sand now more than ever before, because Pharaoh is alive and well and so is Egypt. And guess what? It's us.


Like it or not, the global economic system of which America is the engine, at least for a few more years until we're surpassed by China, as the smart people tell us, is set up very similar to Egypt's like a pyramid. Think of our one dollar bill with the great seal that goes all the way back to the founding fathers. What's on it? What's the image? A pyramid. Roman numerals at the bottom that say "1776," the year of the declaration, then there are thirteen levels in the period. Go back to slide thirteen levels in the pyramid for the 13 colonies. But then notice between the 13 colonies and the all seeing Eye of Sauron or whatever, which some argue is Christian and most argue is Free Mason because Benjamin Franklin was the head of the committee, and he was into that sorts of crazy, cultish stuff. Watch National Treasure. And notice there's a gap between the top level colony and the all seeing eye. And that gap was there to symbolize more. The founding fathers wanted more. Thirteen was not enough. They wanted to devour the entire continent. The pyramid was, is and always has been a symbol of empire. Those of you who work in finance next slide recognize the globe, what economists call the global wealth pyramid. Notice when you kind of divvy up the world's wealth, 70 percent of the world's population are at the bottom and make under 10,000 dollars a year, seventy point one percent. The vast swath of humanity near the top is a very small group of people. Thirty percent at best. Most of you, if you're in this room, the odds are very high that you're in the top 30 percent and the odds are decent that you're in the top twenty or ten or even more. Those crazy people that, you know, drive a car, have a phone and like have more than one pair of shoes, just crazy rich people like that. Now, again, this is not a guilt trip. It's just to point out, you know, Egypt is horrific. If you're a slave, it's not half bad if you're an Egyptian. But that seventy point one percent of people are the people who often make our shoes, our t-shirts, our iPhone, iPhones, as Brooke said, this is, you know, awareness month for human trafficking in our city and beyond. And we hear the stat that there I'm guessing you know this: there are experts argued, 28 million slaves in the world today, which is over twice, depending on who you read, the entire transatlantic slave trade over 300 years. What we often miss, because it's really easy to be like, yeah, we're against that and do some virtue signaling via social media just to post about how other people are bad or whatever and end it all great. But often we forget that most of what's on has some kind of connection to that. Much of what's in our closet, much of what we just consider normal and OK is involved in this kind of injustice, this globalism, which is not all a bad thing, but we all know there is this dark underbelly of injustice to it. My point is, again, not guilt or shame. My point is just this. Egypt never really goes away. Remember that in the library of Scripture, Egypt and the later empires such as Babylon are archetypal. Does it mean that they aren't actually flesh and blood empires? They very much were. Israel was in slavery, not in the kind of allegorical sense. They were in slavery as in slavery. But for all of the writers of the Library of Scripture, Egypt and later Babylon and then the Roman Empire and beyond. These are archetypes of the way that the world is set up this side of the fall. That's why in the Book of Revelation, there are two chapters devoted to the Empire of Babylon, which is an ancient empire that's not around anymore. I grew up in a church tradition that was obsessed with revelation of anything we like are on the other end of the spectrum and we just pretend like it's not in the Bible, which is our own thing that we're working on. Alright. Someday I'll teach Revelation once I know what the heck it's about. But I grew up in this church tradition that was obsessed with Revelation. And so I remember when the Iraq war hit at all, like all of the like Bible prophecy, people freaked out because that's where, you know, it's the modern location of Babylon and it's everybody like, is Saddam Hussein Nimrod, is Babylon going to rise from the ashes of Iraq? And like, everybody's like it's going to happen. It's going to happen by this year, which is the rapture. Yeah. And like I'm in therapy. Don't worry about it, OK? I promise. But that's just an exercise in missing the point in Revelation. Babylon is not a nation state. It is a global economic system of more that is built on the back of injustice. Go read it now. First century readers of Revelation would have immediately thought of the Roman Empire. Twenty first Century readers of Revelation when we read it should think of America or China, or for those of us that are kind of a little bit less nationalistic, the Internet or the free market. It's all Babylon, it's all empire. We live whether you want to identify Babylon or Egypt, whatever empire of choice. It is not just an economic system that is justified by a form of spirituality. And we forget that even in a secular society, the gods and goddesses are alive and well. They're just ideologies. Now, the political rise of the political religions, the left and the right, are no longer opinions about the best way to tax our society and create human flourishing. They are religions, both of them, and both of them, I think, have good contributions to make to human flourishing. But in and of themselves, I think they're both pretty lousy religions. Feel free to disagree with me on that. My point is, again, this is not some anti-US rant like you're a communist or whatever. Well, that's cool again now, right? Isn't it? But it's not, it's not my point at all. I'm Anabaptist. I don't really have a cat in the game. And honestly, I'm deeply grateful. There's not really anywhere else I would rather live in it than the U.S. other than Australia. Please, Lord, in the sun someday. It's so cool. Anyway, other than that, I'm honestly, I'm deeply grateful. I woke up this morning and it was pouring rain and it was dark and I thought, this sounds like we're going somewhere that I honestly had a moment. I just got thank you that I'm warm right now. I'm dry and I'm safe. I don't have to worry about, like, oh, what a gift. So this isn't a rant against our nation per say. It's just to recognize the obvious that we live in a culture of restlessness, of the unquenchable kind of hunger and thirst for more here in the U.S. we work more than ever before. As we said last week, Americans work more hours than any other nation in the world. So famous in the 1960s, you know, theorists all thought that the problem in the future would be too much leisure after, you know, Rosie from the Jetsons or whatever was doing. All of our hard work for us was a famous Senate subcommittee before Nixon and the 60s that full-on said that by 1988, the estimate was the average American work at most 20 hours a week, and the problem for the United States of America would be people with too much time on their hands. Exactly. Not what happened. And when economists tell the story of why not? Because we have all these labor saving devices that are more efficient than ever before, at least in theory. What they normally say is we chose as a society, we chose money over time. Right now, I'm taking a Coursera course from Laurie Santos of Yale in her positive psychology class. And, you know, she has a great study of kind of the happiest people in the world. And she just makes the point that most people spend time to get money, but the happiest people in the world all spend money to get time. And the reality is that even with our labor saving devices, most of us chose to opt for more instead of quiet. All that to say we work more than ever before and we have more than ever before. Again, no guilt trip. But you all know the stats were something like four percent of the world's population, 22 percent of the global economy. It would take something like four, depending on who you read to six or seven Earths to sustain our standard of living for the world. For all the talk about the disappearing middle class, which is a thing since 1950, the per capita income of Americans has tripled since the 1960s and since World War Two, there's been the shift from Americans as workers that contribute to society, to Americans, as consumers, right from the, you know, post 9/11, go out and go shopping, call from the presidency to whatever example it is. The stats on storage units are crazy. You've all read that in the U.S. alone, there are two point three billion square feet of self storage space.


That is enough for seven point three square feet for every single person in our nation. We literally could house our entire nation in our storage units. Pharaoh would freaking love the U.S. of A. we work more than ever before. We have more than ever before. But in spite of that, we're unhappier than ever before. Sociologists again, you know the stats. You just need me to remind you. But sociologists tell us that happiness levels of the U.S. have been in decline since the 1950s. Right around the same time that Sarabeth began to decline and materialism began to ratchet up. Could be a coincidence. Maybe, maybe not. Now we spend 250 billion dollars a year on antidepressants. We diagnose people with depression 400 times more than we did just 20 years ago. Last year, 45,000 people took their own life via suicide. Mental illness, as many of you know, is exploding. This is kind of under the radar. You don't see it in the news a lot right now. But bipolar is crazy and how it's spreading through our society, as is schizophrenia. Doctors are using language like epidemic. I just read a society on a more normal level that just said 39 percent of Americans identify as being more anxious than they were a year ago. And psychologists argue that anxiety is the canary in the coal mine. It's the sign that something in your soul and in your society is off kilter. Whenever you feel anxiety, that should be a little warning sign to you. A little something is off. And if you follow the canary in the coal mine analogy to the end, like get out of the tunnel now fast. Do something radical to overhaul your life. Now, of course, rising levels of unhappiness is very complex and not here just to say the Sabbath is the silver bullet. Oh, there's more to this than how much we work on. All the stuff we buy is very complex. It has to do with post Christianity and secularism and the breakdown of the family and all sorts of things, not to mention Washington, DC. But my point is just we need to hear this again and again in a materialistic culture that there is more to life than accomplishment and accumulation. So to sum up, we work more than ever before. We have more than ever before and we're still not happy. It's Egypt all over again. And listen, it's so easy to just get sucked into the empire. To just acclimate, think of our teaching last December on the world and how behavior that is crazy or not at all in line with Jesus' vision of human flourishing is just normalized by society as a whole. And it's easy just to get sucked into the host culture and just to feel like you are powerless against it and not even fight. To feel like you have to work all of those extra hours just to get ahead. Like you have to reach a certain standard of living to be happy, like you have to say yes to every single promotion and beat out so-and-so for the corner office that you have to have X number of shoes or X number of outfits. The average American, that if you're a parent, you have to give your teenager a phone or give them shopping money or miss church for months at a time to, you know, hit soccer practice or whatever. It's so easy just to say, well, that's just how it is. Right. As my grandma, Mary Sue used to say, "just because everybody is doing it, don't make it smart." Thank you, Grandma, very much for that. My point is, it's just easy to feel powerless and you just get sucked in listening carefully. Sabbath is an act of resistance. It is a rebellion. Against Egypt and its socioeconomic system and all the false gods of empire, it is a line in the sand. Here we will go and no farther. It is a way of saying with your mind and with your body and with all that, you are enough. Enough work, work is a great thing, we're all for Practice course, sign up, I have a little book out there on it. Read it. It's fun. We're all for it. Work matters for six days. On the seventh is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. But work isn't the be all-end all. It is not your identity. You are not what you do. There is more to life than production. There is pleasure. Sabbath is a way to break our addiction to accomplishment. And for many of us, especially if you're a workaholic or your type A or you just love your job or you're more of a doer or for whatever reason, or you're earning your father's love or whatever it is, for many of us, it is a full on addiction. We can't not work accomplished, succeed, get the perfect grade, get the perfect score, stand out above the rest. It is an addiction and Sabbath is a way to break the addiction that is hollowing out our soul. Enough stuff, again, stuff isn't bad, I'm not an ascetic. I think that the simple pleasures of life and gratitude in them are where often we find delight in God and his world stuff. Not a bad thing as long as it was made justly and within reason. But do we really need more of it? Do we really need another pair of shoes? Do we really need a new iPhone every year? Bad analogy. Yes, we do, of course. Right. Do you really need another Star Wars Lego set or whatever it is for you? Sabbath is a way to break our addiction, and that's what [the addiction] is for many of us: accumulation. Some of us are addicted. I mean, shopping as a religion in our society. It is still the number one leisure activity in America even more than social media, Internet and TV. Isn't that crazy, right? It is a way to break this addiction to the need. And more now out of the Sabbath command here in Deuteronomy come the later commands in the Old Testament to not buy and sell on the Sabbath in a Hebrew village or in the city of Jerusalem for hundreds of years. All commerce would stop one day a week, right? Everything would shut down for a 24 hour time period. Let me just give you one example.


Turn over with me to Nehemiah, chapter 13. Just because we never really turned in the Nehemiah, just turn there. We're in a building project anyway. It's like the classic church passage. Some of you grew up in church. You know that, right. Nehemiah, which if you're new to the Bible, is right before the wisdom literature, right before you get to Psalms. There's a great story about this in Nehemiah chapter 13 that I laugh every time I read, but it's really pretty rad. And it's punk rock. Nehemiah chapter 13. Take a look at verse fifteen. Nehemiah, who was a politician, he was the governor of the city, writes, "In those days, I saw people in Judah shredding wine presses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading on donkeys together with wine grapes, figs, all kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore, I warned them against selling food. On that day, people from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah." So the backstory here is Tyre, which is this pagan city up to the northeast on the coast that was close enough to trade with Israel. They would come in on the Sabbath and they would offer food, goods, fish, whatever, when the other Jewish merchants were not selling. And that sucked the whole city into this Tyre practice, this pagan practice of a 24/7 kind of shopping lifestyle. Now, Nehemiah is not down. Seventeen: "I rebuke the nobles or the elites of Judah and said to them, what is this wicked thing you were doing desecrating the Sabbath day?" Right to desecrate is the opposite of the word to sanctify or another way to translate it to make holy. Remember, the command is to remember the Sabbath and to keep it holy. To desecrate is the opposite. It's to treat it like any other day: buy, sell, do as you please. "Didn't your ancestors do the same thing so that our God brought all this calamity on us in the city?" That's the exile. If you know the story. One of the reasons for the exile was the neglect of Sabbath. "Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath." And I love the second half. "When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not open until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no one could be brought. No load could be brought in on the Sabbath day." Sometimes you just have to station people at the gate. I have my armed guards at the front of our house every Sabbath. I'm just like, you're out there from Friday evening. Like, keep your peace where everybody can see it. Right? I'm kidding, I don't have armed guards. That's the next book. Alright. "So once or twice, the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside of Jerusalem. But I warned them and I said, why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you." I love Nehemiah. "From the time that time on, they no longer came on the Sabbath. And the story goes on." Now, this is an odd story. And whatever you think of them, this is just a great example of the practice. And that would come and go through Israel's history of not buying and selling or in our language, not shopping on the Sabbath. This is where in the U.S. later the blue laws came from, which some of you are old enough to know what that is. A lot of us have never even heard of that. Blue laws were on the books in many states up until the 90s that depending on what state you ran, made it either illegal for a shop to open at all on Sunday. Or you are not allowed to open until after 1:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. or still in many states, until quite recently, there were certain things that you were just not allowed to sell. So alcohol, or in some states, like cars. That's great, like no Jack Daniels and no Toyota. None of that on the Sabbath. Right. I'm not sure about the logic there, but whatever. And, you know, often you hear about older people who grew up in that kind of culture. They have this negative memory of that as this legalistic thing, what you're not allowed to do. And so Sunday that they were not allowed to watch TV and not allowed to buy stuff and not allowed to play cards. And all I have to do is go to church four times and listen to the guy out front talk and talk and talk. Right. But honestly, that's the abuse of the practice, not the right use of it. We self enforced blue laws at the Comer House and we find it. So life giving. So not only is there no buying or selling and the Comer house on Sabbath day. We have our armed guards at the door. That is helpful. But we even do our best hit or miss to not even talk about anything that we want on the Sabbath so regularly. And now Jewed in particular is old enough to help with this. But regularly on the Sabbath that happened yesterday, you will hear somebody say, hey, let's wait and talk about that after the Sabbath, because it's just you naturally in the flow of you're hanging out with people you like, your conversation will drift to something that you want or something you don't have or something that you feel that you need. We even have a little rules to help with this, such as no magazine reading on the Sabbath, no window shopping, no Internet stuff. Our technology is off anyway. Nothing that would spark desire in us for what we do not have rather than delight in what we do. And this for us is not legalism. It's not a list of rules of dos and don'ts. But what we're not allowed to do, like there's no command in the New Testament. Thou shalt not read Kinfolk on the Sabbath or anything like that. This is just a practice to index our heart away from slavery, (and that's what it is,) greed and discontentment and restlessness. And into the freedom of gratitude and contentment and restfulness in the kingdom of God, over against the empire of the modern West.


How many of you want the latter, not the former? More gratitude, more contentment, more restfulness in your soul. Sabbath is a practice to index your heart in that direction. It's no silver bullet. It won't solve all of your problems. It won't instantly turn you into the happiest person alive. But it will move your mind and your body toward the health and the well-being that Jesus has for you. Accomplishment and accumulation aren't evil. In fact, in limit, they are both really good things. But at some point you need a line in the sand to say enough, just no more. I don't need anymore. I don't have to work more. I do not have to move up in the company. I do not have to make that position. I do not need another bay in my garage or bicycle wherever you're at. In that cultural scenario, I don't need another pair of shoes. I don't need another night out. I don't need another stamp on my passport. I do not need the perfect grade. I don't have to earn my father's love or my mother's love. That is not where my self-worth comes from. I don't need to be younger or more beautiful or have less wrinkles or flatter abs, though all of that would be fantastic. I do not need to have my kids in ballet or soccer or taekwondo all year long or at all. I do not need to make everybody happy. I do not need to be on social media every single day. I do not need to get everything that I want. You fill in the blank. We just don't need it. Enough is enough, Pharaoh is dead if you read the story, he's at the bottom of the Red Sea. Egypt is in the rearview mirror. The only slave drivers are the ones in our head and in the system that we have been set free from. We are free from the expectations of the empire, from every pharaoh, every taskmaster, every overbearing boss or parent or friend or cultural assumption or demographic assumption. We are part of a different kingdom with a different king. Sabbath is an act of resistance, and it's not, this is very important. Before we move on. It is not just for us, it is for others as well, in particular for what the writings of the Bible would call the poor. My friend A.J. calls the Sabbath scheduled social justice. The Sabbath command that we read in Deuteronomy was radically ahead of its time. Neither you nor your son or your daughter, nor your male or your female servant, nor your animal, even, all are to rest as you do. That line is radical. It is still ahead of its time. Walter Brueggemann and his commentary on this text writes, not all are equal in production. Some perform much more effectively than others. Not all are equal in consumption. Some have greater access to consumer goods and a society defined by production and consumption. There are huge gradations of performance and therefore of worth and significance. In such a social system, everyone is coerced to perform better, produce more, consume more, be a good shopper. Such value in, of course, creates haves and have nots, significant and insignificant, rich and poor people with access and people denied access. But Sabbath breaks the pattern of coercion. All are "like you equal, equal worth, equal value, equal access, equal rest." Thought experiment. Can you imagine what would happen if all commerce in Portland and online were to stop for one full day a week from 24/7 to at least 24/6? If one day a week, let's say Sunday, all restaurants were closed, all websites shut down from orders, and all workers from the CEO of a multinational billion dollar company to a poor farmer in rural India, growing cotton for our clothing. If everybody had a day to rest, to be with family, with friends, to come back to the soul, can you imagine what that would do not only to our soul, but to our society? Now, obviously, that is a pipe dream. That's not an option right now. Most of us don't have male or female servants. I'm guessing if you're in the room, it's really easy to read this and [think] "what does that mean for the middle class or just like a kind of average person, even in our wealthy nation?" But still, I think the hard posture behind that should at least lead us wherever you're out in the socioeconomic spectrum to ask yourself, are there ways that my Sabbath is forcing other people to work or are there ways that I'm resting at somebody else's expense? Are there ways that my lifestyle, or the way I shop , at the degree to which I shop, or the companies that I buy from, or the way that I live, or that I eat , or the ways that I experience the environment, is doing injustice in the world? Are there ways that we are accidentally with no ill intent feeding systems of injustice in our society and around the world? Again, the point here is not guilt trip. It's to imagine, or for many of us, reimagine a day of rest and worship not just for us, but for all. All that to say, Sabbath is an act of resistance. It is a prophetic declaration against our culture of accomplishment and accumulation. Last Fall, we said that spiritual disciplines are spiritual warfare. The Sabbath is a weapon in the fight against the world and the flesh and the devil. It is a way that we say no to Pharaoh and his system, all the pharaohs and all the Egypts. And more importantly, it is a way that we say yes to Jesus and His Kingdom, that we break from the host culture and what it considers normal. And we align all of our life with Jesus and His vision for the soul and for society.


On that note, our practice for the week ahead is all up. But practicing the way again Sabbath, the idea for the week ahead is very simple. So each week of the practice kind of builds on the last for the week ahead. The idea and again, just experiment. There's no commitment here, no legalism thing. Do it if you want to. Don't do it if you don't want to. But the idea is on your Sabbath, which for most of us is our main time off each week to not buy or sell, don't do any shopping of any kind more than that, to focus the attention of your heart, not on what you want or need, but on what you have. And to enjoy the simple pleasures whether that be, you know, enough money to buy a cup of coffee in the morning or just the morning sunrise on a walk through the park by your house. And to focus even more on the things that money can't buy, such as relationships with family or friends. To that end, we have a few exercises there for gratitude. And if this at all sounds like a legalism to you, like more rules, that's my fault. I apologize. I'm doing a lousy job with the communication. That's not the heart behind the practice. Definitely not. My heart at all, for me, it feels not like legalism, it feels like discipline that yields freedom. That's what it feels like to me. And all you have to do to begin to experience more of this freedom in your life is step into a day. To end: You know, we said a few weeks ago that Sabbath is more than just the day. It's a practice by which we cultivate a spirit of restfulness all week long. Sabbath is one of many practices that were built into the Hebrew calendar. If you are a Bible nerd and you know, your Torah. You know that weekly there was the Sabbath monthly. There was the new Moon Festival, which was another day once a month with no work and worship three times a year. There were weeklong feasts. Every seventh year was a Sabbath year where you would let the land live. OK, imagine having every seventh year off like a Bridgton church. We value emotional health. [What if] we give all of our employees seven weeks off every seven years. You were an ancient Hebrew. You got the entire year off every step and then every 50 was the Year of Jubilee. My point is that all sorts of practices of rest were built into Israel's year and life together because again, Sabbath is just one of many practices by which we cultivate the spirit of restfulness all week, all month, all year, all life long. I love this from Walter Brueggemann, whose little book on the Sabbath inspired this teaching. He writes, Moses in Deuteronomy imagines that Sabbath is not only a festival day or a party day, but also a new social reality that is carried back in two days, one through six people who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently. So the task, according to Moses, is to seven our lives. That is why the Sabbath and ending is on day seven, not day three or day four. It is not a break in the middle of our busy week to catch our breath and then get back to work. The really important stuff. Rather, it is the climax of what the whole week is leading up to. It's the best day of the week, at least in my experience. It's what on days four and five and six you look forward to in days one, and two and three, you look back on with a smile on your face. And Sabbath My friends, I just want to end with this this morning. Sabbath will mess with you. It will mess with you for sure, for one seventh of your life and then it will begin to mess with all of your life. First, it will just mess with your Sunday. Next thing you know, your Thursday has shot your Wednesday. It will radically overhaul your life from ground to bottom. So if you don't want to live in freedom from greed and discontentment, if you want to be stuck where your happiness is dependent on what you have and your identity is rooted in what you do for a living, and you want to live with that angst, and we then seriously don't practice the Sabbath. Just go shop, do your stuff, read all the magazines with advertisements for dishwashers you can't afford. But you really want that. Make yours feel lousy, do all of the stuff. But if you want to break free, if you want to join an exodus with Jesus at the head of the pack, if you want to live grateful and content and in a spirit of restlessness, if you want to restfulness, if you want to contribute to justice and shalom and not the antithesis of that, then we invite you to the practice of Sabbath from the way of Jesus.


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