Saved by the Sabbath Luke 13:10-17 August 21, 2022

Let’s begin this sermon with the Prayer for the Day that so captures the theme for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost — this Sunday.

O God, mighty and immortal, you know that as fragile creatures surrounded by great dangers, we cannot by ourselves stand upright.  Give us strength of mind and body, so that even when we suffer because of human sin, we may rise victorious through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

It is Sabbath and people are gathering for worship at the synagogue.  One of them is a stooped over woman.  Arthritis has had her imprisoned for 18 years.  Unexpectedly she encounters Jesus.  Jesus grieves over all the suffering this woman has experienced.  She is forever in pain.  She cannot look up to see the faces of people around her.  Gradually the prison of arthritis has put her in another prison, the prison of separateness and aloneness.

So, Jesus calls her over and speaks; “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” She stands up straight.

A hush comes over the congregation.  No one is supposed to work on the Sabbath.  Is healing work?  At the same time, it is the first time they have seen the woman’s face in years.  They can now relate face to face.  She has been freed from her prison of separateness and aloneness.

The woman is so filled with joy she begins to praise God for her deliverance.

The leader of the synagogue comes over to discover what all the commotion is about.  Does he celebrate the woman who had been imprisoned by her illness has been set free like the Hebrews were when they were set free from the slavery of Egypt?  Absolutely not!  How dare Jesus heal on the Sabbath?  He begins his harangue. “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days to be cured, and not on a Sabbath day.”

Jesus is infuriated.  What better day to be healed than on the Sabbath?

Even to this day folks come to worship in the hopes of being freed from the burdens they have experienced from living in this world of sin.

Jesus shouts; “You hypocrites.  Do you not lead your livestock from their stall on the Sabbath to give them a drink of water?  Is it not all the more important for this woman to be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?”

When Jesus says this, his opponents shamed are totally silent but await the day when they can get even for such an embarrassing moment.  As for the crowd they rejoice over all the wonderful things Jesus has been doing.

In what ways can we be freed by the Sabbath?  Let me begin by reminding you the Sabbath is on Saturday and was set aside to celebrate God resting after creating the world.  We Christians have decided to set aside Sunday instead, because of God doing yet an even more awesome deed.  God raised Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday.  Every time we worship on Sunday we are celebrating God raised Jesus from the dead, and he will raise all of us who believe in him from all of our deaths, defeats, and illnesses.

When I was in seminary, chapel happened every day Monday through Friday.  I for one rarely attended but saw it as a chance to get some of my homework done in my room.  One of my favorite professors attended chapel every day.  I finally asked him why he did that.  His answer was.  “Sometimes I go because I might need my brother or sister.  The other times I go because my brother or sister might need me.”  You see when you make it to worship with us, attending is not only for yourself, someone might need you.

Why is worship so terribly important?  I don’t know about you but I need to come because I have been beat around my aging, and concern for the rest of my family. I have the fear gun control in America is out of control.  The tragedy at Ivalde Texas broke my heart.  What the Russians are doing in Ukraine brings tears to my eyes.

When I was a pastor full time, I used to carry an appointment book to record who I was hoping to visit with that week.  I would include things like who is in the hospital and who needs to receive some communion.  And of course, there were always those church meetings.  Now I carry my appointment book to keep mine and my wife’s doctors’ visits straight.

As you know I have had three surgeries since three years ago that have really slowed me down.  But that has not been the big deal.  Soon after these events  my wife coded and had to be revived by the rescue squad.  Even after they revived her it took several hours in the ER at the hospital to get her blood pressure stabilized.

We discovered she had A-Fib.  Medication and staying hydrated has really helped her condition.  We were reminded that old enemy death is haunting us all.

I have long regularly been at worship even when I was not serving a particular congregation.  I come to celebrate resurrection, forgiveness, healing and new life.  Receiving the Holy Meal of Communion has deep meaning for me. I am fed by worship, and perhaps being here helps someone else.

Sabbath is a gift from God to help us stop, worship God, and renew our perspective on life.  When we gather, we sing, pray, receive communion, give an offering and support each other.  If we notice someone is missing, we check in to see what is happening in their life.  Sabbath is a lifeline thrown to us by God.  Grab hold and let God bring you through.

Yes, all of us come to worship needing to be healed of something that is weighing down on our life.  We come because it is a gift to us from God.  We come because our being here is a gift to someone else.

Thank God for this day of restoration and new beginnings.  It is more a gift than an obligation.  Thanks for coming today.  Amen.


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