Text: Deuteronomy 5:12-15 Date: September 6, 2020 Title: The Hinge Theme: Sabbath is a hinge which opens the door to the love of God and humanity.

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1 Text: Deuteronomy 5:12-15 Date: September 6, 2020 Title: The Hinge Theme: Sabbath is a hinge which opens the door to the love of God and humanity. Good morning from Long Beach Island, and happy Labor Day weekend. I m here in Holgate this morning. I don t know if you know this, but one of our members, Mike Pagnotta, is an architect and builder here on LBI and I m really grateful to him for making it possible for me to broadcast from this beautiful location today. 1 Every once in a while it s not a bad idea to re-read the Ten Commandments. I mean, really, it s not a bad idea. Just to see how you are doing. I mean, would I get a 9/10 this week? 7/10? 4/10? I imagine I ve mentioned this to you before. But did you know there are two versions of the 10 commandments in the Bible? One in Exodus chapter 20 and another in Deuteronomy chapter 5. And one of the differences between the two has to do with the thing we re talking about today: Sabbath. In Exodus, the reason given for the holiness of the Sabbath is that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. In doing that, God hallowed the seventh day. In Deuteronomy, the reason has to do with the time Israel spent as slaves in Egypt. Here, God commands Israel to keep the Sabbath and not only Jews but everyone in their households including their donkeys and oxen. Remember when you couldn t take any rest at all, God is saying, and give yourself this time. Because I m giving you this time. 2 It's a funny thing, you know, having a commandment to rest. One wouldn t think that you d need that. But we do. Many of us have a hard time with it, commandment or no commandment. We don t want to slow down. In fact, some of us probably rebel at the fact that we re being told we have to rest at all. Productivity is what we want. Cross some things off that to-do list. I 1

2 don t know about you, but if I have a day where nothing comes off my list, I m miserable. I feel like a failure. But no matter how much you have to do, there s no way around it you need rest. Rest isn t so much a divine law as it is a natural law (though, truth be told, I m not sure there s much of a difference.) Don t rest and see what happens: watch how your health suffers. Watch how your relationships suffer. Watch how your spiritual life suffers. Have you ever tried to function for multiple days on minimal sleep? What was that like? Have you ever tried to have an important conversation when you couldn t keep your eyes open? How did that go? Rest is not a commandment so much as it is a requirement for actual healthy functioning of your body, soul and relationships. And God says a minimum requirement is one day in seven. It s Labor Day weekend, a time set aside to honor those who work by giving them a rest from their labors. And it s a good time to think about our relationship to our work because for many of us, work has changed pretty dramatically in the past six months. I didn t imagine we d still be recording videos for Facebook worship by now. I see teachers posting photos of their teach-from-home setups kudos to our teachers, by the way! Remote work seems so easy hey, gotta love the commute! until you try to do it and you don t have all the tools or people you normally rely on, and everything takes twice as long to be half as productive. And yet, the volume of work never seems to decrease, does it? So we find ourselves working at odd times. Early, late, whenever. Just trying to keep up. Trying to make up for lost time and productivity. Of course, this is mainly a white-collar phenomenon. On the flip side, there are a lot of jobs that are just gone during this pandemic. Jobs in entertainment, hospitality and retail. Nothing s like it was. Some things may never be like they were again. It s important that on this Labor Day weekend we remember and pray for those who are experiencing those kinds of struggles too. 3 2

3 So let s come back to the scripture for a bit now. I want to consider this commandment to rest biblically. I realized something this time reading through the Ten Commandments: the Sabbath commandment commandment #4 according to our numbering did you also know that Protestants, Jews, and Catholics number the Ten Commandments differently? Commandment #4 sits as a hinge between the first three which are all oriented toward giving proper place to God and the last six, which are all about caring for other people. So: have no other gods before me, don t worship idols, don t take God s name in vain. Then, Sabbath. Then: honor your father & mother, do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, do not covet. The grouping seems important. Three about the love of God. Six about love of neighbor. And number 4 Sabbath is right there in the middle as the hinge between them. Here s my question: what if Sabbath is actually the hinge on which the doors to both love of God and love of neighbor swing open? 4 Follow me now. The first three they are all about properly prioritizing God. Don t have other gods before me, don t worship stuff that s not God, that kind of thing. Sabbath is about priorities too. The prioritization of rest, faith and relationships over work, achievement and commerce. This is a hard lesson for us to learn. Sometimes we have to suffer a loss of our health or of a relationship that s important to us before we come to realize that our priorities have been out of whack. Sabbath brings us back to center. Back to the place where we value what s truly important by giving it our time. And in spending time with God in prayer and worship, we come to realize that God alone is sufficient. That 3

4 we are only ONE person.one. And that no matter how much time, effort or energy we expend, we can only ever do the work of ONE person. For all the things we CANNOT do, we rely on God (and other people). But mainly we rely on God. Why? Because putting ourselves in the hands of others trusting others to care for the world, even for the people around us while we rest requires a heavy dose of faith. Always. Our ability to rest often depends on our willingness to put ourselves in the hands of others. If you tell me you find it impossible to take a break, impossible to rest, I guess my first question is: do you trust God? So in that way, Sabbath truly is a hinge on which LOVE of God and TRUST in God (what we d call faith) swings open. 5 And similarly, Sabbath opens the door for us to love people the way God wants us to love people. That s the second group of commandments. Here s the reality. You cannot care for anyone when you are tired and stressed. It becomes an impossibility. Think about how you get: short tempered, easily irritated, impatient. Or is that just how I get? When you begin to feel that way, you know you need to step back. That s what Sabbath is designed to let you do: take a step back so that you can again see people as PEOPLE and NOT as problems. Have you ever been in a volunteer role that you generally love, but after a while it feels just a little like a burden? And then you step away for a bit, you know, long enough to get a breather, and you can get back to serving in the way you want to serve. That s what Sabbath does for us. It gives us the space to keep doing the thankless tasks love requires and there are many without getting angry about having to do them. Whether that s changing diapers, or doing laundry, grocery shopping, whatever it is that wears you down and wears you out. 4

5 And maybe, just maybe, Sabbath can keep you from killing that person who really drives you nuts.so there you go a two-fer! 6 So this Labor Day, take some time to rest. Take some time to relax. To recharge and realize that only God is God. And you may find that downtime to be exactly the hinge you need to walk through the doors toward a deeper love of God and neighbor. God bless you. Amen. By Joe Monahan, Medford UMC, Medford NJ 5

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