Lesson 3: The Third Commandment

Keeping the Sabbath HolyObserve the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

God commands us to celebrate holidays. We are not to spend all our time working, working, working. Christians are to practice a healthy life style that takes time off to remember we are more than what we do. Life is more than work.

This holiday involves rest to refresh but also worship to remember. Remembering is an important part of religion. We gather to remember God who too often is lost in our obsessive pursuit of happiness. We read the lessons, listen to the sermon, profess the creed, and sing the liturgy. We retell the stories about God’s actions and promises.

The Sabbath lifestyle also helps us remember who we are. There are always parts of our lives we try hard to forget. Confession calls us to remember our sins. No matter how accomplished we are, we hear, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” On the other hand, no matter how insignificant we have been led to think we are, we are told to remember we are beloved children of God. We gather to remember who we are and what we should be doing.

Beyond God and self, we remember the people we try to eliminate from our thoughts. The prayers try to mention them all. We look across the nave and see many of them. Of course, we do not remember simply to arouse our emotions. Remembering is part of repenting, rethinking what we believe and should be doing. We remember those who need our help as the first step in go out to care for them. In fact, Jesus admonishes us if we remember a brother or sister who has something against us, we should leave immediately and settle the score before continuing our worship.

Our Sabbath centers on celebrating the communion meal that remembers Jesus. We gather around a table to remember his Last Supper that accents our betrayal and his faithfulness. We share the meal with all kinds of people with whom we normally would not eat, reminding us we are all equals in God’s sight. Nowhere else do we find this honesty that reminds us who we are and what we should be doing.

Many of us believe the only way we shall be able to maintain our humanity in a global technological society is to practice this commandment. We need more than ever to stop, step back, and take control of our lives. And that is going to mean keeping ourselves in a healthy relationship with the God who made us.

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