New Moons, Stars and Sabbaths – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark BrownLuke 6:1-5

“The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” He said. But, in referring to David’s eating the special bread reserved for priests, he leaves unsaid his own claim to the throne of David and his own identity as the Great High Priest. This we learn elsewhere. The Bible doesn’t say everything in one place: we have to connect the dots ourselves. And, in connecting the dots ourselves, we discover that other people may be connecting the dots in other ways.

In looking up at the night sky, some people see two saucepans, a little one and a big one; others see two bears, a big one and a little one. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor—also known as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. Big Dipper and Little Dipper sound rather more poetic than Big Pan and Little Pan, don’t they? It helps to use poetic language when speaking of tremendous things…like stars and God.

There’s a dot in the Letter to the Colossians that I’d like to connect with these dots in Luke. Jesus is lord of the Sabbath (Luke). In Colossians [2:17] Paul implies that Jesus actually is the Sabbath. In speaking of Jewish festivals, new moons and Sabbaths, he says that these are shadows of things to come—but the substance of the festivals and new moons and Sabbaths belongs to Christ. Christ is the Passover; Christ is the new moon (speaking poetically); Christ is the Sabbath, the True Sabbath. He himself is the One in whom we find our rest. The Jewish Sabbath is a Sabbath of time, resting on the seventh day of the week. Christ is a Sabbath of being, a resting place, an existential Sabbath, if you will—any day of the week.

This Sabbath is always both in and around us. Also in Colossians [1:26-27] Paul speaks of the mystery “hidden throughout the ages”, which is “Christ in us”. He reveals to us elsewhere that we are in Christ, as members of a body. “In him we live and move and have our being.” [Acts 17:28] Christ, our resting place, our Sabbath of being.

But, there is a paradox at the heart of this mystery: resting in Christ isn’t necessarily a passive state or an inert state. Though Christ be our resting place, and both in and around us, his rest is not sleep. In Christ we are plugged in, as it were, to all energies, to the source of all generativity, to the source of all creativity. To rest in Christ is to enter the force field of the One who set all moons and stars in their courses.

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