WELOCME to our worship blog post for this Sunday at Digby Baptist Church. This week we happen to be having a hymn sing and Bible study as the main body of our service together. Video of the children’s lesson and the ‘Bible study sermon’ are here. More information is available about the service and church life in the bulletin, here on the bulletins page.
(Luke 6:1-16) J G White ~ 11 am, Sun, Jan 31, 2021, UBC Digby
Let’s start our Bible study sermon.
O, O, Obey-O,
that’s why we say-O,
yes we will obey!
(A Daily Vacation Bible School song)
For many people through the years, taking part in church has been a simple matter of Christian obedience and duty. The right thing to do. It’s wrong not to do it! Did you learn that?
Christianity as a whole movement, or religion, can be seen as an organization full of rules. Do this. Do not do that. Believe this. Do not believe that. Hundreds of times.
Many people are still the kind of people who find this helpful. The sense of duty and the desire to follow the right path can be strong.
Nowadays, it might be easy for those of us over 50 to say that the younger generations do not have any sense of duty or obedience. But it may be that they value different things than we have valued. Rules of organizations may not seem helpful to them, nor traditional rules in society about how we communicate with people. Yet other rules of just behaviour, and of being authentic might be important to them.
The Hemorrhaging Faith study (2011) heard this from some of the Canadian young people that were interviewed:
Seeing people just going to church to go to church. You know, just seeing a lot of …just going through the motions and then their life is a total mess … I didn’t feel these people were happy in their lives …I just felt it wasn’t true, and one-hundred percent pure. – Marly
I guess one of the things I really struggle with is how people can have a firm belief in God but they have a belief they follow but they can treat people so horribly at the same time when there’s people out there that might not necessarily believe in God but they follow more true to his teaching and are more of a reflection upon Jesus and his character. – Anna
I remember just seeing again certain students …um… go to chapel and pray and worship and then they would leave there and become regular again. What I call regular you know, they would be cursing or doing things they shouldn’t have been doing and I just wondered how …how could they live a double life? – Cal (p. 59)
To be genuine is important, to be authentic and ‘real’ is valued.
Today, our scripture story about Jesus touches on obedience, rooted in the Ten Commandments and other teachings of the Hebrews of old.
Some of the background is found in:
1. Exodus 20:1-17 The Ten Commandments. Which commandments have been important to you? Which have not been as important? Why’s that?
If you go to church Sunday morning, you love the Church. If you also go to Church Sunday evening, you love the Pastor. If you also go to Wednesday Prayer Meeting, you love the Lord! – saying from a church in New Jersey
I’d say that is humorous, but also severe!
Today’s example, with Jesus, is sabbath keeping.
2. Exodus 34:21 Sabbath obedience. What rules about Sunday have you known in your life? How is your obedience different now than it was in the past?
Keeping of the Christian Sabbath can help us in several ways. It breaks the continuous cycle of buying and selling; so it could be very helpful in our ‘consumer culture.’ Sabbath sets us free from the busy schedule, and gives a rhythm to our days. Sabbath trains us to take sabbath moments in every day, and longer time within a whole year, and bigger ‘sabbaticals’ in the course of each decade.
The first Gospel scene today is of Jesus and His disciples EATING GRAIN (Luke 6:1-5)
3. Leviticus 24:5-9 The Bread of the Presence. Think over some of the Christian Sabbath rules and regulations you know. How is each one intended to serve humankind and help? (Perhaps scripture even tells us this; what vs?)
The background for this event Jesus mentioned is in:
4. 1 Samuel 21:1-6 David and the bread.
The next scene in Luke 6 is a HEALING (Luke 6:6-11)
Diversity of Jewish teachings on the Sabbath… Some of the Rabbis, in the time of Jesus, taught that any healing work was permitted on the Sabbath. In contrast, the religious community at Qumran taught that one could not even help an animal that was giving birth on the Sabbath!
Sabbath keeping was a distinctive practice of the Jews.
It was a big part of forming their identity.
5. Exodus 20:8-11 No work on the Sabbath. The day of rest is tied to freedom in this commandment. What are some ways that keeping a Sabbath can provide freedom? What are ways that obedience to other rules helps us?
The third and final scene in the Gospel today is of Jesus’ PRAYER all night not on a Sabbath (Luke 6:)
Preparation for a day of decision – 12 disciples
Was this prayer by Jesus a matter of obedience? Not to any specific rule or pattern. It was simply something He needed to do before the day of decision. A time of personal preparation. He made use of a tool He knew how to use, when He needed it. Perhaps we can see how praying and working with scripture on Sundays, in our lives, gets us ready for other days, other moments, when we need to pray and seek guidance and simply be with our God.
We, in the Church, have many spiritual tools at our fingertips, even if we are a bit rusty when it comes to using some of them. Maybe, like me, you are good at taking part in worship on Sunday, but other sabbath-keeping actions have been lost. Perhaps we should sharpen our skills and habits, and we will have more to offer to others around us.
We are now in the third sermon in this series on ‘Why the Christian Church?’ First was ‘To Study/Learn,’ and the second was ‘To Save & Be Saved.’ These are strong in the evangelical tradition, with our emphasis on scripture and saving people. Bible study is also big in the contemplative tradition: picture the scholars in universities, or monks and nuns in monasteries, making use of their ancient libraries.
Today is about being in the church ‘To Obey,’ and is important in the holiness tradition, which emphasizes knowing and doing the will of God, obeying the teachings of scripture, and being a person of virtue and good behaviour, avoiding sin. Other reasons for taking part in the church will come in the weeks ahead.
Six Traditions in Christianity come right out of the life of Jesus, our Master and Saviour:
- Holiness: the virtuous life.
- Charismatic: the Spirit-empowered life
- Contemplative: the prayer-filled life
- Social Justice: the compassionate life
- Evangelical: the Word-centered life
- Incarnational: the sacramental life
Look at the chart printed in the bulletin; estimate where you are in each area on the wheel spokes. Put a mark at those points, then connect the dots from spoke to spoke to form a ring around the hub.
What are your strengths, as a spiritual being? What are your reasons for being in a church, a local spiritual community? What are not big parts of your life?
As you wander through this week – and a new month begins – consider if obedience and holiness have some influence in your life. And, what other things guide the way you live?
Consider also those who are not worshippers, not churchgoers. Watch for how they still may be following Jesus. How they pray or study or worship or contemplate or serve sacrificially. How is it Christ is sometimes using them on His team, with us.