A time for rest, renewal & thanksgiving

One sabbath (Jesus) was going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?" Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

— Mark 2:23-24, 27-28 (NRSV)

Do you have a favorite color? I have always loved the color green. I especially like the shades of green we see in spring — the new leaves on trees, lawns refreshed by rain and dew, and the neat rows of sprouting corn and beans in farm fields. Green is a color that immediately makes me think of new and abundant life.

As the school year comes to a close and spring transitions to summer this month, many people will be taking time for rest and renewal by way of vacations or planning vacations for the coming months. I, too, am certainly looking forward to spending time resting among the greed of God's creation in late spring. It's important for people to make time for rest in the midst of their busy lives. Even God needed time for rest in the creation story in Genesis!

Many faith traditions refer to days or longer time periods of rest and thanksgiving to God as sabbath. On one such day Jesus and his disciples were traveling and became hungry. As they passed through a field the disciples began plucking some grain to eat for sustenance. The Pharisees who saw them became angry, because their tradition prohibited any type of work on sabbath days. Even the act of plucking grain for food was considered work in their tradition. When they confronted Jesus about his followers he told them, "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath." For Jesus, food for the journey ahead was more important than the Pharisees' code of law.

Throughout their journeys Jesus fed his disciples spiritual food as well. He taught them to love and care for others. He taught them how to pray. He taught them the truth of God's grace. And, ultimately, he taught them that death does not have the final word. He gave them new and abundant life in his name. The very good news is that this new and abundant life is for us as well. Jesus feeds us spiritual food not only on sabbath days, but every day. His Word sustains us, his promises live within us, and his grace fulfills us. He gives each of us the power to be called children of God. The green paraments in our sanctuary for the next several weeks remind us of God's promise of this new and abundant life in Christ.

As you take time for rest and renewal this summer remember that Jesus is with you to provide spiritual food in your journeys. As we see the green of God's creation that surrounds us remember that Jesus is the source of new and abundant life. And remember that times of sabbath — times for rest and thanksgiving to God — were made for humankind, so that we may recognize and give thanks to God for everything our Lord Jesus has done for us.

God bless,

Pastor Nathan