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

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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