MAR 8, 2015 Sermon

In his book entitled, “Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now,” Walter

Brueggman writes about the institution of the Sabbath by the God of Israel shortly after their

deliverance from the bondage of Pharaoh and Egypt. For many years, the people of Israel were

subjected to the Pharaoh’s constant, insatiable and anxiety-driven need for more and more

production. They worked long hours, seven days a week with diminishing raw materials in order

to satisfy his demands.

Brueggman likens the demands of the Pharaoh to the demands of our market-driven economy

for ever greater and greater consumption in order to fuel economic growth and prosperity.

Thus “we want more, have more, own more, use more, eat and drink more.” God relieved this

burden from the people of Israel, even in the harsh wilderness, by providing their daily

sustenance and demanding that on the seventh day they rest. The restfulness of God stands in

direct contradiction to the restlessness of the Pharaoh.

Correlating to the time the people of Israel spent in the wilderness, the 40 days of Great Lent

are like the ultimate Sabbath allowing us to distance ourselves from our regularly scheduled

lives as much as possible and to reflect on our relationship with God. Perhaps we have allowed

ourselves to succumb to the smothering demands of our ever-anxious and restless market

economy to produce, consume, and accumulate. The Sabbath becomes an act of resistance and

an alternative to the demands of Pharaoh. Jesus who knows us intimately and sees what our

deepest need truly is says:

“Come unto me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30

This Lent has not started out easy for our parish. We have already endured much. But let us

not be deterred from the benefit Great Lent offers us: a time of rest, a time of restoration, and

time of reflection: a time of Sabbath. Let us turn off our televisions and radios, let us avoid the

many distractions that so often preoccupy our lives and let us retreat to our place of prayer,

away from the hustle and bustle of this world and, through silent prayer and meditation, allow

ourselves to be placed in the presence of the Lord. Just as the paralytic in the Gospels, let us

draw near to the physician of our souls allowing Him to lay his healing hand upon us and grant

to us the forgiveness of our sins and life to our bodies paralyzed by distraction, restlessness,

and relentless activity.


Sermon by Protodeacon Joel Chupp