Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost Devotional
Psalm 103, Luke 13

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost Lectionary Text:

Psalm 103;1-8; Of David.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works vindication
   and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
   his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Luke 13:10-17: “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.’ 15 But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?’ 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.”

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost comment: When I was a child growing up, stores were closed on Sundays, the Christian Sabbath. I have clear memories of Saturday evenings watching folks running to the neighborhood market to buy last minute items before it closed. When I got older, I joined the throne. My mother needed “something necessary” for Sunday’s dinner. In those days, the pace was slower; the streets were quieter on Sunday. Except, in the summer, when walking to church you would often pass by a house and hear gospel music playing through an open window. In those days the “Blue Laws” were enforced.

“Blue laws have been part of U.S. Legal History since the colonial period. These laws, which today are usually referred to as Sunday closing laws, prohibit certain types of commercial activity on Sundays. Originally these laws were directed at personal activities regarded as moral offenses, such as gambling or the consumption of alcohol. In the nineteenth century, however, state and local governments passed laws that forbade businesses from operating on Sunday. Although these laws were clearly based on Christian beliefs, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that they do not violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause (separation of church and state). Many blue laws have been repealed since the 1960s, but some laws that ban the sale of alcohol on Sunday remain in force.” © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill.

In Pennsylvania: “Aside from restaurants (or bars whose food business exceeded a certain percentage of sales) with a special permit, the sale of alcohol on Sundays was prohibited until 2003. Since 2005, hours of sales of malt and brewed beverages on Sundays depends on whether beer distributors have obtained a Sunday sales permit from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board…To this day, hunting is prohibited on Sundays. Car dealerships are also prohibited from being open on Sundays. (Wikipedia)

Jesus healed the crippled woman on the Jewish Sabbath, observed on Saturday. It is clear that the Synagogue Leader and others struggled with interpretation and implementation of the Sabbath laws, just as those who established the Blue Laws.

What is work? Jesus confronts his dissenters with these essential questions, “Is it work to give animals a drink of water? “Is it work to cure someone who has been suffering for eighteen years?”

“What is Sabbath and what makes it so special?” The word Sabbath means to cease (from). It is first used in Genesis 2, where we read that six days God worked and the seventh day God rested. Scripture presents the number seven as a symbol of complete or whole. I think that the reason the Sabbath is so special is because it contains, in one day, the power to harmonize, to complete and dignify six days of work. Sabbath rest allows us to cease from…in order to receive the benefits that only come from this day.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2,3

O God, show us the necessity of Sabbath, to cease from our labors, in order to take the benefits of Sabbath rest into the lives of others. Amen

Blessings during Ordinary Times,
Rev. Julia
©August 6, 2010

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