Excerpted from Enough for All, a Lenten Guide for Lectionary Year B from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
In the spirit of our 2021 NC Council of Churches Lenten Theme: Enough for All, let’s focus on the fourth commandment as a particularly grounding force amongst the Ten Commandments.
To begin this commandment with “Remember” is intentionally profound – as if God knew that we would forget to honor the Sabbath. This rule of God’s law gives additional purpose and reverence during a particularly difficult season of sacrifice and lament as we continue to experience devastating loss and challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic.
On this Third Sunday, the almost half-way mark to Easter we must ask ourselves “have we forgotten to keep the Sabbath Holy?” As a technological example: have we become so consumed with smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, and Zoom that we’ve forgotten to make space for what it means to be unplugged from our earthly world in order to have “ears to hear” God, even for a moment?
Each Ash Wednesday through Easter we honor the 40-day spiritual test of temptation that Jesus experienced while fasting in the wilderness, while the actual number of days between the beginning and end of our Lent practice is 46 days including Sundays. Each of these Sundays provide enough sacred opportunities to establish space and time to “be still and know” God.
The fourth Commandment of “Remembering the Sabbath” calls us to manifest a way of life so that ultimately we might not be wrapped up in ourselves. Our knowing that divine reality exists gives us permission to be humble, gentle, and kind. Just when we think there is not enough time to heal the pain and wounds of our neighbors, we find that when we rest our own hearts, minds, and bodies, we are able to harness increasingly powerful energies in compassion and justice ministries.
Dear God, as you restore our souls and provide our renewed energies may we commit to providing an equitable distribution of space, time, and resources needed for ALL to be able to rest, not just the affluent and privileged. We pray all God’s children are able to rest in peace, now and always, as you have reminded us to keep Sabbath holy in the beloved community. Amen.