“The sabbath was made for humankind and not humankind for the sabbath.
This past week at our 11 a.m. worship service there were four baptisms, a wonderful and special treat. The Service of Baptism always brings tears to my eyes. It’s something about the words, “you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own, forever.” It seems such an act of love, sign of an inviolable bond. Christ’s own. Forever.
I was a Lay Eucharistic Minister that day, so I was all dressed up in the proper attire for serving at the altar, and I was acting the part of the dignified servant. In the pause at the end of the Great Thanksgiving, right after everyone had said, “Amen,” a little voice soared up from the back of the church, a child shouting, “Yay!”
We all smiled and went about our business. Communion was served and the post communion prayer recited. Then, just after the priest gave the blessing and we all said “Amen,” again, the little voice rose from the back of the church, “Yay!”
This time I couldn’t refrain. A responding “Yay!” bubbled up from somewhere deep inside me and out of my mouth. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I have that feeling about how Jesus and his disciples came through the cornfields that Sabbath day, talking and laughing and eating the cobs they had picked from the stalks. They had a “Yay” stored up in them, an enthusiastic “Yes” to Jesus’ love and to the community that was forming around them. And their “Yes” could not be stifled by the rule that proclaimed that no work be done on the Sabbath. It just wasn’t going to happen. It just wasn’t right.
The Sabbath was made for humankind, Jesus tells us. And we can think about that: about its usefulness in giving us a space in which to reflect upon God’s creation and God’s love. After all, God’s response to the world, from the very beginning of time and right up to the present moment, is an enthusiastic “Yes.” God said, “it is good.” Yay.
But humankind was not made for the Sabbath. Any spiritual tool can be a hindrance if it gets in the way of the pulse of life that runs through all creation, speaking in our hearts. Our most important sacraments can become hindrances if they cut off life with too many rules.
After all, what will God remember in God’s relationship with us? God may remember uplifting moments. God may remember deep insights and important instances of connection. But most assuredly God will remember our “Yay,” spoken out of the pure joy of our simple hearts in response to God’s love.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado