Honoring the Father and the Son

The Jews began persecuting Jesus and trying to find ways to kill him because he was breaking the Sabbath by healing people. Jesus responded to them by saying “My Father is at work, and I am at work as well.” Then they began even more earnestly to want to put him to death. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath by working, but he was saying God was his Father, which made him equal with God.

Jesus replied “The Son is only able to do what he sees the Father doing. He is not able to do anything on his own. Whatever the One does, the Son does also in the same way. The Father loves the Son and reveals everything he is doing and will show him even greater than this, so that you will be astonished. In the same way the Father brings people back to life, so the Son also restores life to anyone he wants. The Father has given the power of judgment to the Son, and judges no one Himself. This is so all people will show honor to the Son in the same way they show honor to the Father. Anyone who does not respect the Son does not respect the One who sent him.”

JN 5:16-23

Pick up your bedroll

Then, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a Jewish festival. There is a pool named Bethesda near the Sheep Gate. There are five colonnades there that shelter many people who are sick. People who are blind, lame, and paralyzed wait there for the rare times when an angel stirs up the waters. The first person who gets into the water after the angel had stirred it up is healed from whatever sickness he had.

One of the men there had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus saw him he knew that he had been waiting there a long time to be healed. He asked him “Do you want to get well?”

The man replied “Sir, I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up. Someone always gets in ahead of me while I am trying to get there.” Jesus told him “Get up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk.”

Since that day was the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders said to the man “It’s illegal for you to carry your mat on the Sabbath!” He replied, “The man who healed me told me ‘Pick up your sleeping mat and walk.’”

The leaders pressed further, asking “Who is it that told you to pick up your sleeping mat and walk?” The man didn’t know who it was because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd.

Jesus found the man in the Temple complex later and told him “Now that you are well, don’t sin anymore or something worse might happen to you.”

The man then went and reported to the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.

JN 5:1-15

A Sabbath controversy

The Pharisees were watching Jesus closely when he ate in the home of one of their leaders one Sabbath. There was a man there whose body was swollen with fluid because he had edema. Jesus challenged the Pharisees and the experts in the Law by saying “Is it permissible according to the Law of Moses to heal on the Sabbath or not?” They did not answer him. Jesus brought the man to him, healed him, and then sent him on his way. He turned to them and said “Who among you, if your son or ox fell into a well, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” They had no answer to this.

LK 14:1-6

Healing a daughter of Abraham.

Jesus noticed a woman who was disabled by a spirit while he was teaching in the synagogue one Sabbath. She was bent over and could not completely straighten up, and had been this way for 18 years. Jesus called to her and said “Woman, you are released from your disability!” He laid his hands on her and she was instantly restored to health and began to praise God.

The local synagogue leader was indignant because Jesus had worked on the Sabbath. He said to the crowd “There are six days in which people are allowed to work – therefore come to be healed on one of those days and not on the Sabbath!”

The Lord answered him and said “Hypocrites! You all work on the Sabbath! Don’t you untie your ox or donkey and lead it to water on the Sabbath? Satan has tied this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for 18 years. Shouldn’t she too be released on the Sabbath day?”

All of his adversaries were humiliated when he said this, and the whole crowd was rejoicing over all the amazing things he was doing.

LK 13:10-17

New Sabbath

“Hear, oh Israel, the Lord your God is one.” The Shema.

The goal is oneness of people, of union, reunion, communion, with God.

The hope is for Sabbath every day, the Sabbath without end. This is a sign that the Messiah has come.

Jesus acted like the Sabbath was every day. He worked on the Sabbath, yet took time to rest whenever he could -on a boat, on mountain tops, in lonely and deserted places.

Perhaps that is the answer. Once we start living as if the Messiah has come we will experience our own personal transformation. Once we live this way, we are freed from the old ways of living.

When we don’t, it is as if we are keeping ourselves in exile, wandering through our own personal deserts for far more than 40 years – for our entire lifetimes.

Sometimes birds have been in cages so long they won’t leave, even when the door is left open. Sometimes we are the same – stuck in old ways, so even when we are told we are free we won’t change.

Jesus frees us. Jesus says we are forgiven and loved. He’s unlocked that cage. Now you have to walk out.

So now, act as if every day is the Sabbath. This doesn’t mean do nothing. Your work is your way of serving God. You serve God through your work. But praise God, delight in God’s creation, and rest, knowing that you don’t have to do anything to get God’s favor, because you already have it.

Hair covering butterfly

In thinking about my new (sometimes) practice of covering my hair:

I’m comparing it to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. It has to cover itself up in order to transform.

The funniest thing is that it is the easiest way to color my hair. I can have blue or purple hair quite easily and change it very simply. No chemicals, no risk.

I’m of mixed opinions as to people commenting on it. Most people say that they like it and I like to think that what they see is not the covering or the color but they like the fact that I am transforming myself and trying to make myself better than I am. I like to think that what they’re noticing is my practice of self-improvement rather than my fashion sense.

I’m being transferred to a small library in a very close community. I feel that it is very conservative. I’ll be under the microscope for a bit, from the staff as well as the patrons. They are very protective and proud of their library, and they don’t want some stranger in there. I’ll have to let them know early on that I’m OK. Sticking out isn’t going to work.

Nothing sticks out more than covering your head, but it is for religious and modesty reasons. Thus, even though it is unusual, it is unusual in a very conservative way.

I have to work every Saturday now, unless I ask off. That will be tricky, because there are only three people in the branch. There isn’t any wiggle room. Sure, they can borrow from another library in the cluster if needed. I hear it is slow enough that two people can run the library with no problems. This is amazing to me since having just two people in my department was an emergency in my previous library. My department was one of three in that branch.

I’d started covering my head at the library on the Saturdays I work about four months ago. It was my way of remembering that Saturday was the Sabbath, and keeping it different and special. I’d cover at home on my weekends off. I worked every other Saturday on average. It was awkward when I was at work. I got asked questions, people would comment. Generally they liked it. They didn’t really understand, but they were kind. Explaining something as personal as a religious conviction is hard. I had to explain it and get it approved by the branch manager because there is a library policy against head covering (except for religious reasons). I only stuck out at work 26 days a year because I only covered at work every other week on Saturday. Working every Saturday at the new place, I’m going to stick out more.

I remember Jesus says that we should not make our piety obvious. We should pray in private, and not show others our religious acts. They are to be seen by God, not others. Jesus also worked on the Sabbath, and said that the Sabbath was made for us, not the other way around. Jesus also reminds us of the words from the prophet Hosea – “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”

So should I worry about working every Saturday? Is Saturday the Sabbath, or is Sunday? Do I have to take a full day off from work to rest, or am I covered if I’m doing God’s work? Should I cover my head or not?

This is all a work in progress.

I think like Jacob, we are praised for wrestling with God. God wants us to actively engage with our faith and our practices. God wants us to be mindful and fully alive. Our practices should draw us closer to God and to other humans. If they put up walls, then we have to stop.

For now, I’m going to modify how I do it. I have seen that opinions vary as to if women are to cover all their hair, or just their head. It is not a commandment to cover – just a tradition, inferred from a story in the Hebrew Bible. In the Christian texts, Paul has his own things to say about it, but Jesus is silent on the matter. So I see it as optional – if it draws me closer to God and reminds me to be kinder to others, then it is good. Since I can’t see my headcovering, it is the pressure of it that reminds me to modify my actions. I can achieve that pressure by tying the tichel like a headband. I’ll be covering my head, getting the pressure as a reminder, but my hair will be exposed as it falls from the back.

I’ll see how this works out. Hopefully it will be seen as a fashion statement and not a religious one. I’m not doing this to make other people change their ways. I’m doing it to change my own.

Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus and his disciples were walking through the grain fields one Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began picking the heads off the grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating. When the Pharisees saw them doing this, they said “Why are you doing what is it illegal on the Sabbath?”

Jesus answered them, “Didn’t you read what David and his companions did when they were hungry – how he entered the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and took and ate the sacred bread, which only the priests were allowed to eat, and also gave some to his companions to eat?”

MT 12:1-4, MK 2:23-26, LK 6:1-4

“Or didn’t you read in the Law that the Temple priests violate the Sabbath and are not guilty of breaking the Law? I tell you that something greater than the Temple is here! If you knew what the phrase ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ means then you would not have condemned innocent people.”

MT 12:5-7

“The Sabbath was created for man, not the other way around.”

MK 2:27

“Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

MT 12:8, MK 2:28, LK 6:5

Day off?

I was listing to a Jewish podcast where the speaker referred to Shabbat as a day off. He said that God says “Hey I love you so much, why don’t you take the day off?”And then take the same day off next week off too.”

The person who was speaking was male. I’m starting to understand why in Orthodox Judaism one of the morning prayers is giving thanks to God that you were not born female.

Shabbat is not a day off if you are female.

Shabbat is making up for all the extra work you had to do the week before. On Shabbat you’re not allowed to cook. This means you have to cook twice as much the day before. You can prepare for this throughout the week but ultimately it means you have to do twice as much work in order to “take the day off”. The house has to be clean and everything prepared by sunset on Friday night. No work is allowed until sunset on Saturday night. It is like preparing for a major holiday every week.

It is similar to when the Jews were wandering in the desert. They were expected to gather twice as much manna on Friday because there would not be any provided on Saturday. Gathering twice as much or working twice as hard is the same thing. So it’s not really a “day off” so much as a day of recovery from all the extra work you had to do to prepare for your “day off”.

Honor the Sabbath

I’m really trying to get into the idea of making rest of part of my day. In fact, making rest of part of my life would be a good idea. Just like with the mental health days that I schedule at work, if I schedule in time to rest then it won’t have to sneak up on me and force me to rest.

In yoga there is always at the end of a practice the corpse pose. It is 10 or 15 minutes of just laying there and receiving everything that is happened to you. Mozart says that the music is the space between the notes. Rest isn’t a new idea, space isn’t a bad thing. It is rest and space and time off that gives shape and meaning to everything else.

I have a new devotional that I’m using. It incorporates rest into it. Every seven days it has a time of reflection. On the seventh day you’re supposed to think about all the things that you’ve learned the week before from that devotional. You are supposed to reflect on all that that God has shared with you in those past six days. I feel very fortunate that I happened to start reading this devotional on a Sunday, so that means that the seventh day is Saturday. While I am not Jewish, I am trying to incorporate the Jewish idea of the Sabbath being Saturday into my religious life. By not doing some of my routine on Saturday mornings now, it means that they are a lot more peaceful and restful.

I have to be at work every other Saturday at 8:30 in the morning. This is earlier by 30 minutes than any other time I have to be at work. By taking out my devotional time and turning it into reflection time, I actually have a little more rest on Saturday morning.

I’ve also decided that I can skip putting out a blog post on the Sabbath. While I don’t want to get in the habit of skipping I also don’t want to be worn out by this. It’s important for me to remember that I am not being paid to produce this blog. And also the Sabbath ends at sundown. When I get off of work on Saturday I can write a post if I want, therefore I have still fulfilled my goal of posting one thing every day. That way I am obedient to God and to my own desire to observe the Sabbath at the same time.

There is something very freeing about seeing rest as a commandment. It means I’m not goofing off or not being a good steward of my time. If God says I have to rest, then I’m not being mindless with my life. I’m doing what is best and healthy for my body, mind, and spirit.

Relax. Don’t do it.

I don’t know how to relax. When I take a day off, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I feel like I have wasted a day. If I spend the whole day in my pajamas and I don’t brush my teeth and I don’t go out then I really feel the same as when I did when I was smoking pot. The next day I feel completely behind and that I haven’t done anything useful.

It is like being on a bender. My entropy and lethargy only get stronger and stronger. The next day when I start to pick up the pieces I feel like a big mess. I feel like I’ve just had a huge party in my house where 50 people have shown up and left beer bottles and paper plates everywhere. I feel like my entire job is to clean up after them. But the only problem is there was no them. It was just me.

So I feel guilty taking time off. I feel guilty doing nothing. Perhaps I feel that I don’t deserve it. So I push myself really hard all the time and I double up on my days. I try make sure I have something to do no matter where I am.

Even if I’m watching television I have beads nearby that I can work on and make necklaces. It isn’t like I have commissions or guaranteed sales for them. It isn’t like I’m really making money off this. Yet I still keep busy. When I walk at lunch I write some of this blog using my phone. I don’t look up and see the beauty that is around me.

I’m always doing something. Rarely am I just being. I know that if I do too much I’m going to wear myself out. My desire to not be wasteful of my time will end up wasting my life. I’ll wear myself out and have nothing left.

Even now I’m on the way to an appointment and I’m dictating this into my phone. That way I can copy and paste it later into my blog. It’s a little pathological. The appointment is with a spiritual director. Spiritual directors are concerned with your relationship with God. The right now I’m concerned with my own relationship with myself.

Just like the Sabbath, perhaps I need to schedule my unscheduled time. God knew how busy we’d get, and mandated rest for us. So I need to start seeing rest as holy.

I need to start seeing quiet time as not wasted time. I think the only way for me to do that is to plan it, rather than just let it happen. If I prepare for it by doing my morning routine and making sure I’m caught up on my chores, I won’t feel so far behind when I “return” from my “time off”. Retreats don’t have to be held at a separate location. They can occur in the living room or back yard.

And then again, I need to address why I feel that I have to do it all. How much of that comes from when my parents died, and I had to handle the whole estate by myself? I had to take care of the house sale too, and prepare to move. I had help with the heavy lifting from friends, but all the organization and legal stuff I had to do on my own. My brother, older and in real estate, was not only not helpful, he had proven how untrustworthy he was with other similar situations. I could have let him “help” me and I would have lost more than money in the deal. I’ve seen his version of ethics and morals.

I need to remember that isn’t how everyone acts. I need to remember that bad people aren’t necessarily patterns for all people. I’ve overtrusted in the past and been very hurt. People I should have been able to trust, best friends, have betrayed me and excluded me. I have a hard time trusting and feeling safe around most people. Their ways are not my ways.

I’ve recently learned that feeling betrayed and losing trust are all part of trauma. What you expect to be solid and true turns out to be null and void. I also know that not processing difficult feelings is dangerous. Perhaps that is part of why I fall into pits of “nothingness” and unintentional days off. Perhaps the trauma of my childhood and the recent chaos at work are all connected.