Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Working for God

Today's Word:
Ezekiel 47:1-12 (I saw water flowing out from the foundation of the Temple; it is life-giving and life-sustaining)
Psalm 46:2-9 (God is our refuge and our strength)
John 5:1-16 (Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath...Gasp!)

Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.
(Genesis 2:2-3, New American Bible)

I beg to differ. That's right; I believe that something is not all-together in the way that reads on paper.

God never stopped working. Nature is constantly making us aware of that.

God is always at work in some shape or form. That Jesus would heal on the Sabbath amplifies further what I already see.

There was really no such provision in the Law to keep the man in our Gospel passage today from carrying his mat from the pool at Bethesda. What was he supposed to do, leave it there like yesterday's garbage?

It was the interpretation of the Law by Jesus' contemporaries that had anyone not of the 'religious' class scrambling to jump through hoop after hoop to be found 'right' with God. A lot of that same interpretation had that same class - the haves - profiting at the expense of the have-nots.

If I understand correctly (and I make no claim at being perfectly correct) the focus of our Sabbath 'work' should not be devoted to the same toil and labor it is the other five or six. Rather, the main focus is on being part of God's creation and rejoicing in it. Silly as it sounds, that takes work. I'm not saying it should, but rather that it just does. If like me you have a ministerial role, then you are working to fulfill that role. If you aren't a minister, and you attend a church or synagogue or mosque or temple of your choice, you have to get out of bed and wash and get dressed and travel to the place where you worship.

Now add to that the various service roles that require people attending to them, regardless of the day on the calendar. Not just the people who work the front lines managing health care and public safety; but the homemakers and other family folks who put out the traditional Sunday dinner, which is usually more work than the meals they prepare during the week.

When I was the impressionable child in parochial grade school, I was taught to offer all my work - school work, chores at home, and ultimately, my daily labors - as prayer and offering to God. The offerings are far from perfect; I have bad days, frustrating days, days when I feel helpless, as well as days when all the ducks are lined up as I want them and all I plan to do is easily accomplished.

That's the inherent problem when you start analyzing the Bible. It's meant to be taken seriously, but in doing so care must be taken to get at what it says to you. One can take too literal an interpretation, which paints one picture. On the other hand, one can be too liberal, which paints another.

If God took a step back to look at Creation (which is how I read Genesis 2:2), then I should do the same. I should look at creation around me, be satisfied with all the good stuff, and evaluate how I should deal with the not-so-good stuff. I'm not saying I'm an expert at it, but rather that hopefully describes how I approach it.

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