Monday, April 21, 2008

Mike: Response Rami's 4/21 Post

I want to play with another image. Might we speak of Sabbath as a kind of cleansing, which washes away our self-centeredness and excuses, leaving behind only that which accords with the way of God. Perhaps it's not going too far to say that Sabbath continues the work often associated with baptism. Through Sabbath we die to self and the world and are born anew.

The practice of Sabbath, then, serves as a means by which we become the kind of people who actually remember the God who brought us out of the narrow places and who do not abuse the name (character, power, etc.) of God. Sabbath, in this sense, is a transforming spiritual discipline. The Sabbath truly is made for the sake of humanity, and not humanity for the sake of the Sabbath.

Can a community be or become a Sabbath community, or is the best we can hope is that individuals may become Sabbath persons who join loosely together in limited ways? Rami points to the early Jewish followers of Jesus as a possible example of this kind of community. I think he is right in describing them as people who, for the most part, traveled light. On the other hand, they also seem to have worshiped together daily, received or given ongoing instruction, and provided food to their needy. This sounds like a tightly knit community.

How did they achieve (at least on occasion)a balance between the individual and the community? They gave a great deal of credit to the Spirit of God. Would it be too much to say a Sabbath community cannot be fashioned except God's Spirit take up the task? We look first to God, rather than techniques. Observing the Sabbath conditions us to accept this is so.

New heaven, new earth, new persons, and new community--Sabbath not only helps keep the vision alive but also proves to be a conduit through which the Spirit of God moves us toward its realization.

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