"[Jesus] does not think the Pharisees are mostly right about the Sabbath. They miss the most basic point of the Sabbath. Jesus does not think healing someone on the Sabbath is an 'exception' to the Sabbath rules. He thinks the opposite: Sabbath-keeping means doing good, healing, relieving distress. The Sabbath laws themselves require Israelites to give rest to their sons, servants, and even animals on the Sabbath. That's what Jesus does on the Sabbath: he gives rest by raising people from their sick beds, by cleansing lepers, by healing withered arms...He attacks Jewish Sabbath-keepers because they are not really keeping the Sabbath." - Peter Leithart, The Four (pp. 68-69)Today my roommates were in charge of hospitality (which means we had other church members over for lunch between services). While there are many ways to go with posts about the Sabbath and also hospitality, I have been thinking about something specific, something tangentially related to both subjects: do we as a church allow each other to be family, especially on the Lord's Day (the Christian Sabbath)?
In my experience, when we go to church, there is a great impulse to put on your Sunday best. I think that this impulse goes far beyond our attire. I have seen, and been a part of, the tendency to smile and greet people superficially. Questions like "how are you doing?" answered with "doing great. (insert all sorts of platitudes about God being good and/or how blessed we are)". The truth of our situations often stand in stark contrast to these answers. We are beat up and tired. We have a multitude of health problems and sins that sometimes make us feel as if we are drowning. We are far from fine.
While this is not an apology for us to be "transparent" or "authentic", airing all of what ails us with everyone that we come in contact with, it is an apology that we ought to be a people where it is OK to be broken, a people who don't have everything together. It is good to spend Sunday afternoons with our family. We don't have to tell everyone everything, but we need to be a place of grace where it is safe to let go of our Sunday best.
This is what the Sabbath is on this side of glory. Entering rest, in a tangible way, means that we create a place where we can come together and pour grace and love into each other's lives. What does this mean for families? Talk to each other about struggles parenting and give each other advice. Take time to play with other people's kids and give their parents a little while to catch their breath. Open a bottle of wine and laugh together. Be willing to get real answers when you ask how people are doing and be a safe person to answer honestly. Loving the brethren is a way that we love our husband, Jesus Christ.
Sundays should be a time of rest. Not just for ourselves, but for those in the pew next to you. Christ served the people in the household of God in ways that give them rest, that let them experience the Sabbath. The church should be a place where we seek the rest of others more than we demand rest for ourselves. I am not good at this and don't know how to do this very well. I suspect many of us don't. We are all sinners, inside and outside of the church. We should still strive to make the Sabbath a day where we give rest to those brothers who are weary, for God has given us rest.