Sunday, April 26, 2015

This week's lesson (April 25 - May 1): Christ as lord of the Sabbath

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight." 
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." -- Joshua 4:1-7, NIV.
You don't usually answer a legal question with, "Once upon a time."

But that's what Jesus does in Luke 6:1-5.

The Pharisees, remember, want to know why Christ's followers "are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

Jesus responds with a anecdote about David.

They want to discuss the rules that tell us how to follow God, in other words: the halakha.

Jesus replies with a story about someone who follows God -- about something we might call haggadah.

Like so many debates today, in other words -- debates about divorce, debates about women's ordination, debates about LGBT issues . . . it would seem that halakha is not enough; we also need haggadah.

And yes, rules are important. God's law is important. Stories alone are not enough.

But as we discuss the Sabbath (or divorce, or women's ordination, or LGBT issues), we need to make sure that we honor the stories people bring to the discussion -- stories about the way those issues have played out in their lives.

To be sure, it's easy to treat these things as "legal issues."

But even legal issues need some "testimony."

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