I’ve been thinking a lot about rest lately. No, more accurately, God’s been talking to me a lot about rest! A couple of weeks ago I had to miss our gathering, but was filled in that one of us had suggested we meditate on a passage from Jeremiah. As I was reading it again this weekend, one line stood out:
“And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath
or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.” –Jeremiah 17:22
The passage is talking about honoring the Lord by honoring His commandments. Jeremiah exhorts the people to rest from working. The poetic picture is that if they would cease from carrying burdens on the Sabbath and not carry them through the gates, then what would come through the gates instead would be kings and princes who would sit on the throne of David. That’s the historical context. Please pardon me—I’m going to take a personal idea from it in just a bit.
My favorite day of the week is Saturday. It has become my Sabbath and is the most restful part of my week. In addition to being a literal day off from work, it’s also the night our house/simple church gets together. We meet in one couple’s house, share a meal, and share the body and blood of Christ in symbolic meal as well as in worship, prayer, exhortation, and fellowship. As we gather in Jesus’ name, He fulfills His promise to be among us. We invite and welcome Him to lead and minister to us, His people.
Another passage that has been rolling around in me lately is:
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” –Mark 2:27-28
Jesus is always Lord, but on Saturday nights specifically, Jesus, the Son of Man, is the Lord of our gathering. We experience Him as the Lord of the Sabbath. I experience Him as the Lord of my Sabbath. The Jeremiah passage says not to carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath. As we meet from house to house (Acts 2:42), we carry the burdens of our week into the house and into our gatherings. But we should not carry them back out with us. We should not leave with heavy, wearisome burdens that are hard to bear, grinding down on our shoulders (Matthew 23:4). Jesus is the one who shares his yoke and who gives us rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
When we love each other as Christ loves us, we have great grace, love, mercy, and tenderness for each other. In that kind of love, we can be both bold and humble enough to share with our sisters and brothers what is weighing us down. We become open to rest. We begin to enter the Sabbath rest made for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).
This past Saturday had a tangible example of this. A number of us have been feeling the frustration of our jobs not aligning with our senses of vocation. Our jobs seem to be in the way, and we, myself included, have been feeling the daily grind grinding into our joy and sense of purpose. This week we ended up sharing what pieces we knew of our dreams. We encouraged one another in what steps however small we could be taking right now, right where we are. There were also some common themes to the dreams, which was exciting.
We went into our house church that night burdened by discouragement in where we were at, but left with rest in our souls. We left with the Lord of the Sabbath residing in His rightful place as Lord of our lives—Jesus, descendent of David, as King of our lives. We traded our burdens for rest, and in the rest, Jesus reigns.