Third Week of Lent 2012
Feasting on God’s Gifts; Fasting in Sorrow
A Lenten Devotional by Presbyterians for Earth Care 2012
Psalm 19, Exodus 20:1-17: v. 8-11
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
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, your son or your daughter,
your male or female slave,
or the alien resident in your towns.
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
but rested the seventh day;
therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord.
I recently heard American poet, Maurice Manning, speak about nostalgia. He deepened the definition of the word from a longing for things not present, especially a time or place that feels like home, to a longing for our first home, which we find in the natural world. He cited evidence from the natural sciences that creation generates and regenerates, drawing resources back to itself. Following this pattern, we too are drawn back to nature in our longing to find a true home.
Manning was not speaking theologically, but I believe the deep longing to relocate our place in nature comes from the Creator. God calls to us: come home, come home, come, be refreshed and renewed, abide in my creation, and call it good.
Exodus 20:8-11 confirms this call. In the surrounding verses, God offers the good gift of the law to guide God’s people in their relationship with God, creation, and community as they wander in the wilderness and prepare to enter the land God promised their ancestors. Sabbath practice sits in the center of God’s vision for the future of the faithful, calling God’s people to rest in wonderment at God’s awesome creative work.
You might say: these verses sound more like a prohibition of work on a day set aside for God, than a call to come home to creation; but, what are people who live on the land to do once their work has ceased, except feast their senses on God’s good creation and wonder at their place in it?
In this command, we realize that feasting and fasting go hand in hand. God calls the people to fast from busyness and productivity, to fast from worrying about having enough, and to fast from the ideology that their work is greater than God’s work. God calls the people to feast on the day, to luxuriate in the time and place that God creates, and to see the fruit of God’s making and call it very good.
Lord, call us again. Fill our hearts with a longing to find our true home in your majestic world. Clear the film from our eyes so we can see the idolatry of our earth endangering productivity and consumption. Turn us toward the righteous path established by your law. Revive our souls as we keep sabbath. Amen
Rev. Alice Schaap Freeman grew-up in southwestern Virginia as an outdoor enthusiast and studied environmental economics at Davidson College and The School for Field Studies. She has served the church as an associate pastor, youth director, and retreat leader.