The Call to Discipleship in The Gospel of Mark a prayer journey, Day 14
23 One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ 25And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ 27Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’ Mark 2:23-28This passage continues the discussion of what does it mean to practice our faith, how do we live out religious practices. In this passage Jesus ad his disciples are passing through a grain field and pluck the heads of grain. The pharisees, who are calling people to practice their faith in a strict way. They are part of a renewal movement that was trying to call the people back to their identity. Their understanding of renewal was to hold to tradition. So one of the ideas behind the Sabbath was to rest and refrain from work. Harvesting grain on the Sabbath would have violated the rules against work. Jesus wants us to think of Sabbath practices differently and raises the issue of hunger. In the story, he tells of David and his men eating in the temple the food reserved for the priest, these were men in need. Jesus as the Son of Man can change the rules of the Sabbath, because to feed the hungry is more important than the no work rule.
I wonder where Jesus would stand on this rule in a culture where most people can't rest in God's presence on the Sabbath because they have to work. Jesus would fall on the side of compassion for people who have to work to feed their families. But I wonder if today, Jesus would push us to transform the way work is organized, so that people would have the opportunity for Sabbath rest and still have a living wage. But it also makes me wonder how we as the church demonstrate compassion on the Sabbath. How do our services times provide for this opportunity to show and practice compassion? Do we leave the space to feed the hungry, to provide comfort for those who always have to work on weekends and holidays?
Sit quietly. Breath slowly and deeply. Ask God to show you the core of your faith, the center of Christianity. Then bring into your awareness people you know who don't attend church or who left the church. Could they be halted in their journey toward God by the little ways we have always done things? How can we show them a community of compassion, a church that loves and serves the world? Ask God to show you a few specific things your church can do to help people. Amen.
Presence of the Lord Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood