We talked last week about Sabbath as a tricky concept. The commandment to rest harkens back to other key Biblical stories. It points to the day of rest, the 7th day of creation when God celebrates the goodness of the universe, and reveals the divine nature of joy, celebration, rest and life. It also points back to the story of the Exodus and the rest that all slaves long for as the Israelites did in Egypt. Here in Leviticus Moses meets with God in the Tabernacle – the Tent of Meeting – where God is known and knows. The whole book is a collection of teachings, commandments or laws or how to live to maximize and center oneself in the relationship with the living God who delivered the Israelites from the oppressive hand of the gods of Egypt and the demagogue Pharaoh.
Moses teaches regime change after a revolution. The God known in the Exodus is a God of freedom, fullness, and life. This also required responsibility, mutuality, and interdependence. Freedom isn’t for one’s own individual benefit but for the common good.
God teaches of a cycle of life, rooted in rest, not production; which nurtures community, not commodity. There is to be a cycle of rest every week (every 7 days) and also every 7 years, and also every 7 times 7 years… a sabbatical and also a year of Jubilee – in which life is rediscovered, recognized and reclaimed. It’s to be a year of reckoning and revolution, less or redistribution than or reconnection to God, each other, and the land. We’re not sure that the Jubilee Year was ever practiced or enacted.
In Luke, it seems as if Jesus is proclaiming himself as God’s agent of regime change. Here in his first public teaching, in his hometown (at least in Luke’s version) Jesus proclaims a new day, a new time, a new way of being and being with each other. God is on the move. Jesus invites those who hear him to join in, to walk with God, to build a new kingdom within those of this world.
In our age of hyped-up talk about regime change, disruption, shattering glass ceilings and dealing with long-standing unaddressed issues we might ask ourselves about God’s jubilee regime change and what that means for us today in 2019.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
- What word, phrase or image grabs your attention in the texts?
- How is rest the nature of God? How do these scriptures portray creation (or the world) as a place of sabbath rest?
- Do you identify sabbath rest as an individual or communal thing? Why?
Download the text study sheet we’ll use in our class discussion at @CAPCOakland HERE.