Top of Page ILLUMINATING AND THINKING ABOUT THE SERMON
Jesus was not a big fan of law, ritual and regulations riding rough shod over other human beings. Jesus did not like the idea of the law of God being used to repress and harm other human beings in the name of the LAW. Human beings have again and again used God’s teachings to suppress others to gain control over others etc. etc.
There are several different questions going on during this period. However, it must be quickly said that those following Jesus were either always looking for fault or those looking for enlightenment. The fault finders of course jumped all over the followers of Jesus for taking and eating grain out of the field. That alone convinced the Pharisees that Jesus whole movement was suspect and beyond the pale. But for others it was an opportunity to revisit our understanding of God.
The wonderful sermon that the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry gave at St. George's Chapel at the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reminds us of the real difference between how the Pharisees saw God and the followers of Jesus see God. Christian always see God in terms of God’s love for each of us. To quote from his wonderful sermon: We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That's why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself. The source of all of our lives. There's an old medieval poem that says: 'Where true love is found, God himself is there.'
When it comes to understanding anything, we start with love. This morning when we look at the sabbath, at Sunday worship or anything else we start with love.
William Barclay in his inevitable style points out that man was not created to be the victim of the Sabbath, in fact the opposite is true. The regulations were set up to make the Sabbath a more joyful and fulfilling day. A day which we should every week look towards with anticipation. Barclay points out that religion is not a set of rules and regulations. That the religion of love, i.e. the followers of Jesus see God at work when human need is met. Barclay points out that any religion that sees rules to count more than mercy is no religion but a corrupt system. Barclay also points out that persons are much more important than rituals or rules. Barclay points out that the story of the Fourth Wise Man illustrates this in a very powerful way. (William Barclay, The Daily Study of Bible Series Vol: The Gospel of Mark [Philadelphia, 1975] p64-5)
N T Wright points out that there is a modern-day equivalent of what Jesus had to deal with. The Pharisees where a combination of the KGB and Gestapo in Jesus’ time. They were looking for any infraction of the LAW. N T Wright goes on to explain that the Pharisees were a self-appointed group of people, a political party who saw themselves as guardians of public morality. They were not an official secret police, but instead were like a nosey journalist that is sure they and they alone can guard the public spiritual discourse. So along comes Jesus and his followers who were already suspicious, so they were followed into the corn field. Jesus was like a modern-day politician who announces interest in seeking public office. (N T Wright, Mark for Everyone [Louisville, 2004] p26-7) As soon as the announcement is made the Journalist, bloggers and all social media begins to investigate to find any mud that might stick. Suddenly there is a photo of something shady on Facebook and then the whole crowd is in full throated pursuit.
Jesus does see value in the Sabbath, but what he wishes to reform is the strict and blind way that others particularly the Pharisees try to control others using the Sabbath. We find Jesus walking through the fields on the Sabbath surrounded by grain ready for the harvest. This means that this happened sometime in April or May since that was the normal harvest time in that part of the world. Observing the Sabbath was part of the core values of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day. So, this was a very important question. So where do we start? The Old Testament gives us two positive admonitions for the Sabbath. The first is it is a day of rest and the second is that it is holy. Now these were vague particularly if you want to make other people toe the line. So, the way to go is to then ask the question what is work, in other words what is not allowed on the Sabbath. This means suddenly we can set up all kinds of rules about what is work. (David Smith, A Commentary for Bible Readers Vol: Mark [Indianapolis, 2007] p82-4)
The final answer to all these questions is a bit of a coded claim. Basically, the Messiah is coming, i.e. the New Light, the New Reforms are on the way and that everything and anything to do with the Sabbath will be revisited in a new light.
There are two main themes not to be missed in this week’s sermon. The first is that Jesus did not dismiss the whole idea of the Sabbath but improved it and built up the whole idea of rest, renewal and being taken over by the holiness of God. The second idea is that Jesus’ had a revolutionary and very happy understanding of God. Jesus looking through the lens of love understood better the idea of the law, the sabbath and our relationship to God.
Top of Page ILLUSTRATING THE SERMON
I’m not a big fan of Church doctrines and dogma. It can be any religion. Doesn’t matter. I think most doctrines and dogma are silly, misguided, sometimes just plain bad. They were invented mainly to keep members in line with the hierarchy of the institution. The softer reason for them is “unity”. The harder one, “control”.
Pope Francis referred to this when he said, “Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists — they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies.”
I’ve been thinking about Jesus of Nazareth (the Jewish version, not the Christian one) and Scripture a lot lately. All those times that Jesus set aside the Torah and opted to respond to human need. There seems to have been a pattern within Jesus’ thoughts and actions when it came to following the Law or giving his love and compassion to human beings. The pattern is that love and compassion always won out.
In the third chapter of Mark and the sixth chapter of Luke, Jesus was quoted as having said... “The law was made for man, not man for the law, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”.
There is sometimes a tendency to view Scripture as infallible, inerrant because supposedly it is the “Word of God”, rather than the human interpretation or experience of God’s wisdom (my preference). When this happens, the danger is that we may be tempted to view Scripture as God and ultimate Truth, rather than something pointing to God and ultimate Truth. In other words, we start to worship, idolize Scripture... and that is precisely what Jesus was critical of. That is what I view as dangerous within Christianity.
In the words of one of my favorite authors, Fr. Joseph F. Girzone, “Where there is a human need the law must bend. It is God’s children who are sacred to God, not laws. Laws are to protect or assist God’s children. If a law does not do that, it should be re-evaluated, and, perhaps, abrogated.”
“One cannot help but think of religious laws and customs today that may have had meaning at one time but are a hindrance to the healthy practice of spirituality in our times. This is not to say that morality should change, but there are many religious laws that have nothing to do with the moral law. They are merely arbitrary ordinances that could be changed. Often people’s attachment to traditions and customs resist changing them even though they may cause of occasion untold damage to many good people. When religious leaders see the damage done, one would think as good shepherds concerned for the sheep they would be the first to recognize the need for change. It is difficult to understand their obsessive attachment to customs and practices when they more often give rise to scandal than inspire goodness. It might do well for the religious leaders of all the denominations to re-evaluate practices that are totally out of sync with the mind and spirit of Jesus, and which many good people no longer observe because they know they are foreign to the mind of Jesus.”
One can twist Scripture to support any thought process, any speech, or any action in which one might choose to engage. Some are obviously twisted and un-Jesus-like. My litmus test is always simply, “What would Jesus say and do?” ... based on what we know of Jesus’ personality and teachings. I’ve always believed the best indicator of this is his Sermon on the Mount, specifically his eight Beatitudes.
So, you can imagine how pleased I was to hear Pope Francis on Monday refer to the Beatitudes as the “identity card” and “life plan” for Christians. He said, “Few words, simple words, but practical for all. Because Christianity is a practical religion: it is not just to be imagined, it is to be practiced.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marco-caceres/pope-francis-a-man-of-few_b_5490202.html)
The story is an addition and expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It tells about a "fourth" wise man (accepting the tradition that the Magi numbered three), a priest of the Magi named Artaban, one of the Medes from Persia. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child - a sapphire, a ruby, and a "pearl of great price". However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men. Because he missed the caravan, and he can't cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell one of his treasures to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip. He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt. He saves the life of a child at the price of another of his treasures.
He then travels to Egypt and to many other countries, searching for Jesus for many years and performing acts of charity along the way. After 33 years, Artaban is still a pilgrim, and a seeker after light. Artaban arrives in Jerusalem just in time for the crucifixion of Jesus. He spends his last treasure, the pearl, to ransom a young woman from being sold into slavery. He is then struck in the head by a falling roof tile and is about to die, having failed in his quest to find Jesus, but having done much good through charitable works. A voice tells him "Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me."(Matthew 25:40) He dies in a calm radiance of wonder and joy. His treasures were accepted, and the Other Wise Man found his King.
All eyes were on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day Saturday, except for the nearly 14 minutes when the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry made history with a soul-stirring sermon at St. George's Chapel that is still generating buzz.
"It’s been remarkable and very surprising," Curry said today on "Good Morning America" of the reaction to his sermon.
The New York-based Curry, who’s the first black leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States, made history again as the first American to preach at a British royal wedding. Curry said he was "very aware" of the gravitas of the moment.
In addition to Curry's history-making moment, Meghan, now the Duchess of Sussex, also broke ground as an American and biracial daughter of an African-American mother and white father marrying into Britain's royal family.
"The reality is ... the love between those two people, between that loyal couple, was so powerful, not only did we all show up, but it brought all these different worlds together," Curry said. "It brought different nationalities, different ethnicities, different religious traditions, people of all stripes and types, people of different political persuasions.
"Actually, for a moment, we were actually together, organized around love," he continued. "Their love was a sign of God’s love and what that love can do in our lives. It brought together our African heritage, our British heritage, our American heritage."
Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, wed Saturday at St. George's Chapel in front of about 600 guests and a worldwide audience of millions.
Curry said it was Meghan and Harry's decision, in consultation with leaders of the Church of England, to include him in the wedding.
"I didn’t believe it because a member of my staff called and said, ‘They’d like you to preach at the royal wedding,'" Curry recalled. "I said, ‘Get out of here; it’s April Fools. You’ve got to be kidding me.’"
Meghan and Harry's love for each other was "obvious" and could be seen on their faces, according to Curry.
"That love was a reflection of a greater love and that greater love is the love of God," he said. "I think that’s what Jesus has been talking about. That’s what he was trying to teach us. Love God love your neighbor and you’ll be able to figure out the rest."
Curry spoke in his royal wedding address about the power of love and at one point quoted U.S. civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world," the bishop said Saturday. "Love is the only way. There's power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't even over-sentimentalize it. There's power, power in love."
King's daughter, Bernice King, immediately recognized her late father's words and tweeted, "#MLK quote at the #RoyalWedding. Your life, teachings and words still matter so much, Daddy. Congrats, Harry and Meghan!"
Church officials and Harry and Meghan were aware of the "basic outline" of his sermon ahead of time, according to Curry. He said he was able to speak to the couple "very briefly" after the wedding service, describing them as "kind and gracious."
"[It was] more just an opportunity to say hello," Curry said. "[They] just said things like, 'Thank you,' [and] 'It meant a lot.'" (https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/bishop-speaks-delivering-soul-stirring-sermon-prince-harry/story?id=55346674)
Here's the full transcript of Curry's sermon:
And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the song of Solomon in the Bible: 'Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm. For love is as strong as death. Passion, fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love. Neither can floods drown it out.'
The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said, and I quote: 'We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. For love, love is the only way.'
There’s power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't even over-sentimentalize it. There's power, power in love. If you don't believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. Well there's power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There's a certain sense in which, when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right. There's something right about it, and there's a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That's why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself. The source of all our life.
There's an old medieval poem that says: 'Where true love is found, God himself is there.'
The New Testament says it this way: 'Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God. Why? For God is love.'
There’s power in love. There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There's power in love to lift and liberate when nothing else will. There's power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart, a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death.
But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we're all here. Two young people fell in love and we all showed up. But it's not just for and about a young couple for whom we rejoice with. It's more than that.
Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses. And he went back and reached back into the Hebrew scriptures to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.' This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
And then in Matthew's version, he added, he said: 'On these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world. Love God love your neighbors. And while you're at it, love yourself.'
Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history. A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world, and a movement mandating people to live that love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I'm talking about some power. Real power. Power to change the world.
If you don't believe me, well, there was some old slaves in America's antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way, they sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It's one that says: 'There is a balm in Gilead.' A healing balm, something that can make things right. 'There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead, to heal the sin-sick soul.' And one of the stanzas actually explains why. They said: 'If you cannot preach like Peter, and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all. That's the balm in Gilead.'
This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it. He died to save us all. He didn't die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He wasn't getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world for us. That's what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial and, in so doing, becomes redemptive.
And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world. If you don't believe me, just stop and think or imagine. Think and imagine. Well, think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired, old world when love is the way.
When love is the way -- unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive -- when love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more. When love is the way, there's plenty good room, plenty good room for all of God's children.
Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God. Brothers and sisters; that's a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family. And let me tell you something, ole Solomon was right in the Old Testament; that's fire.
Teilhard de Chardin -- and with this, I will sit down. We got to get you all married. French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. A Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a mystic. In some of his writings, he said, from his scientific background as well as his theological one -- in some of his writings, he said, as others have, that the discovery or invention or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history. Fire, to a great extent, made human civilization possible. Fire made it possible to cook food and to provide sanitary ways of eating, which reduced the spread of disease in its time. Fire made it possible to heat warm environments, and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates. Fire made it possible. There was no Bronze Age without fire, no Iron Age without fire, no Industrial Revolution without fire. The advances of science and technology are greatly dependent on the human ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good.
Anyone get here in a car today? An automobile? Nod your heads if you did, I'm guessing. I know there were some carriages. But those of us who came in cars, fire -- the controlled, harnessed fire -- made that possible. I know that the Bible says, and I believe it, that Jesus walked on the water. But I have to tell you, I didn't walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here. Fire makes it possible for us to text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook, and socially be dysfunctional with each other. Fire makes all of that possible, and Teilhard de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire. Dr. King was right: 'We must discover love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world.'
Our brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love. (https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/read-bishop-currys-royal-wedding-sermon-imagine-world/story?id=55290732)
The exuberant oratory of Rev. Michael Curry may have stirred the royals in their seats at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but it wasn’t as surprising to Queen Elizabeth as it appeared.
“People forget that the Queen was very interested in, and listened to, Billy Graham,” guest Dominic Reid tells PEOPLE. “It was not as new as people think. Maybe it was not what people were expecting, but everybody listened, and everybody was absolutely behind it.”
Describing Bishop Michael Curry as “fabulous,” Reid adds of his address, “It had power and energy, and it really addressed them as individuals within the context of something that’s formal.”
“The message was bang on — the world needs more love and none of us can possibly counter that view,” Reid says. (https://people.com/royals/everybody-behind-royal-wedding-sermon-including-queen/)
Sabbatarianism, doctrine of those Christians who believe that the Sabbath (usually on Sundays) should be observed in accordance with the Fourth Commandment, which forbids work on the Sabbath because it is a holy day (see Ten Commandments). Some other Christians have contended that the Fourth (or Third in some systems) Commandment was a part of the Hebrew ceremonial, not moral, law. They believe that this law was entirely abolished by Jesus, whose Resurrection on the first day of the week established a new kind of day, characterized by worship rather than absence of work. In Christianity there are many shades of opinion between these two views.
Legislation concerning what may or may not be done on Sunday is as old as the time of the Roman emperor Constantine I, who decreed regulations against Sunday labor in 321. In its strictest form, however, Sabbatarianism was the creation of the Scottish and English Reformers, especially John Knox. The Scottish Presbyterians and the Puritans took their views to the American colonies, where rigorous “blue laws” were enacted. Although reduced in number and effect, Sunday observance laws are still promoted in various European countries and in the United States. State or local laws, primarily in the South, bar certain business activities and sporting events on Sunday—increasingly, however, only before noon.
Those Christians who believe that the weekly holy day should still be observed on the Hebrew Sabbath, or Saturday, rather than on Sunday, are also called Sabbatarians. There was a Sabbatarian movement in the 16th century, and the Seventh-day Adventist church upholds the continuing validity of the Saturday Sabbath for Christians.
Strict sabbath observance or Sabbatarianism became a class-based source of conflict during the reign of Victoria, since to many, like the cartoonists of Punch, laws enforcing it seemed to apply only to the working classes who could not evade its restrictions by access to private men's clubs or homes with overworked servants. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word Sabbatarian, which was used in English at least as early as 1619, has three basic meanings: (1) Jewish observance of Saturday as a day or rest and prayer (its original meaning); (2) “A member of a Christian sect founded towards the close of the sixteenth century, the members of which maintained that the Sabbath should be observed on the seventh and not on the first day of the week; a Seventh-day Baptist.” (3) “A Christian who regards the Lord's Day as a Sabbath, deducing its obligation from the Fourth Commandment. Also, and more commonly, one whose opinion and practice about Sunday observance are unusually strict.” [emphasis added].
As the article on Sabbath observance in John M'Clintock and James Strong's Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (1880) explains, because “the Sabbath is of Divine Institution it is be kept holy unto the Lord.” Christians observe many other days as holidays — that is, as occasions for religious services — but human beings designated them as such. “Not so the Sabbath. Hence the fourth commandment is ushered in with a peculiar emphasis — ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.’” Having emphasized the divine origins of Sabbatarianism, M'Clintock and Strong explain its purpose — “that God may be worshipped, man instructed, nations benefited, and families devoted to the service of God.” Citing biblical texts, they point to seven advantages of Sabbath observance, for “to sanctify this day, we should consider it — ”
1. a day of rest; not, indeed, to exclude works of mercy and charity, but a cessation from all labor and care;
2. as a day of remembrance; of creation, preservation, redemption;
3. as a day of meditation and prayer, in which we should cultivate communion with God (Rev. i, 10);
4. as a day of public worship (Acts xx, 7; John xx, 19);
5. as a day of joy (Isa. Ivi, 2; Psa. cxviii, 24);
6. as a day of praise (Psa. cxvi, 12-14);
7. as a day of anticipation, looking forward to that holy, happy, and eternal Sabbath which remains for the people of God.
Thus, the sabbath turns out to be, among many other things, a divinely created type of that eternal Sabbath — the afterlife in Heaven.
The effects of violating the Sabbath
Therefore, abandoning its strict observance, they claim, “would be unreasonable, unscriptural (Exod. xxxi, 13), and every way disadvantageous to the body, to society, to the soul, and even to the brute creation” — this last a point to which I shall return shortly. Nonetheless,
it is, however, awfully violated by visiting, feasting, indolence, buying and selling, working, worldly amusements, and travelling. "Look into the streets," says bishop Porteus, "on the Lord's day, and see whether they convey the idea of a day of rest. Do not our servants and our cattle seem to be almost as fully occupied on that day as on any other? As if this were not a sufficient infringement of their rights, we contrive, by needless entertainments at home and needless journeys abroad, which are often by choice and inclination reserved for this very day, to take up all the little remaining part of their leisure time.
In other words, the violation of the Sabbath, particularly by the wealthy, violates both human and animal rights! In fact, travelling on Sunday “add one day more of torment to those generous but wretched animals whose services they hire; and who, being generally strained beyond their strength the other six days of the week, have, of all creatures under heaven, the best and most equitable claim to suspension of labor on the seventh.”
The evils arising from Sabbath-breaking are greatly to be lamented: they are an insult to God, an injury to ourselves, and an awful example to our servants, our children, and our friends. [IX, 197]
Attempts to enforce Sabbath observance
Although M'Clintock and Strong place emphasis on the way ignoring Sabbath observance by the wealthy violates the rights of both servants and animals, those who attempted to legislate on it mid-Victorian England ignored such matters, producing obviously class-based oppression — something the satirical magazine Punch quickly observed.
In Hypocrisy denouncing music and Sunday Finery? a dissenting minister (identified by clothing) fulminates against violating Sabbath observance while in the background appears a carriage with driver and footmen that boasts the heraldic arms of its noble occupants. The class-based nature of attempts to enforce Sabbath observance appears much more clearly in a cartoon published a week later: Sunday Music as Cant would have it. A series of satirical cartoons identify the Archbishop of Canterbury solely as “Cant.” Here we see him (identified by his ecclesiastical robes and Oxbridge graduate's hat) beating a beer cask accompanied by an evangelical with a tract in his pocket and a red-nosed puritan with a liquor bottle in his. Finally, we see the obsequious Archbishop hat in hand with Queen Victoria, who unhappily tells him, “Well, My Lord — Then I suppose my Sunday band must be given up, too” Cant. responds, “Oh de-ar no, Your Majesty! That's quite a different thing!” As Punch saw it, the Church and its usual enemies, the Evangelicals, had banded together to violate the Sabbath and the rights of the working class.
As Philip V. Allingham has pointed out in his comments on a series of three Punch cartoons that appeared in July 1855, the magazine had earlier mocked “Lord Grosvenor's Revenge,” a parliamentary bill intended to prohibit the sale of beer on Sundays. “It gave rise to large meetings in Hyde Park and elsewhere, followed by riots. The Bill was subsequently repealed. “ Punch did its part to fan the flames.
The caption of the Club continues “Just a sandwich and a Nice Glass of Hock [a kind of wine] and Seltzer Water,” emphasizing how the legislation did not affect in the slightest the rich and powerful who belonged to private clubs. The other two cartoons, in contrast, show the effect upon the average Briton. In the first a policeman stands guard at “The Roadside Inn,” preventing two women with three small children from obtaining beer. Instead, they have only “A Mouthful of Dust and a Pull at the Pump.” The third quotes a London jurist:
Mr. Hall, Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, cannot discover any “inconvenience” in the present working of the Act, but recommends that the poor Sunday excursionist should “Strap a Knapsack on his Back, with Two or Three Bottles of Beer, and the Child to boot, sooner than the Sunday should be desecrated by Opening the Public-House.”
The cartoon depicts a working man's family on a Sunday excursion as the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street would have it: the overburdened husband holds an umbrella in his left hand, one child in his right, and a baby, picnic basket, and what seems to be a hat on his back while a small daughter walks beside him carrying a bottle. In the distance we catch sight of the mother pulling a wagon holding one or two children up a hill at the top of which tantalizingly appears a forbidden roadside inn (indicated by its freestanding sign). (http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/sabbatarianism.html)
Sabbath in Christianity is the inclusion or adoption in Christianity of a Sabbath day. Established within Judaism through Mosaic Law, Christians inherited a Sabbath practice that reflected two great precepts: the commandment to "remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" and God's blessing of the seventh day (Saturday) as a day of rest in the Genesis creation narrative and declared as made for man by Jesus. The first of these provisions was associated in Judaism with the assembly of the people to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem or in synagogues.
The position now dominant in Western Christianity is that observance of the Lord's Day, Sunday, supplanted or superseded the Sabbath commandment in that the former "celebrated the Christian community's deliverance from captivity to sin, Satan, and worldly passions, made possible by the resurrection on the first day of the week." Early Christians observed the seventh day with prayer and rest, but they also gathered on the first day. By the 4th century, Christians were officially observing the first day, Sunday, as their day of rest, not the seventh.
A Sabbatarian movement within Oriental Orthodoxy began in the 12th century in Ethiopia and gained momentum in the 13th, eventually establishing itself as the norm in that region. The modern Orthodox Tewahedo churches observe a two-day Sabbath, including both Saturday and Sunday. Influenced by Puritan ideas, the Presbyterian and Congregationalist, as well as Methodist and Baptist Churches, enshrined first-day Sabbatarian views in their confessions of faith, observing the Lord's Day as the Christian Sabbath.
Beginning about the 17th century, a few groups of Restorationist Christians took issue with some of the practice of the churches around them, sometimes also questioning the theology that had been so widely accepted throughout 16 centuries. Mostly Seventh-day Sabbatarians, they broke away from their former churches to form communities that followed Seventh-day Sabbath-based practices that differed from the rest of Christianity, often also adopting a more literal interpretation of law, either Christian or Mosaic.
Early Christians continued to pray and rest on the seventh day. By the 2nd century AD some Christians also observed Sunday, the day of the week on which Jesus had risen from the dead and on which the Holy Spirit had come to the apostles. Paul and the Christians of Troas, for example, gathered on Sunday "to break bread," Soon Christians were observing only Sunday and not the Sabbath. Patristic writings attest that by the second century, it had become commonplace to celebrate the Eucharist in a corporate day of worship on the first day. A Church Father, Eusebius, stated that for Christians, "the sabbath had been transferred to Sunday".
In his noteworthy book From Sabbath to Sunday, Adventist theologian Samuele Bacchiocchi contended that the transition from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday in the early Christian church was due to pagan and political factors, and the decline of standards for the Sabbath day.
The confession holds that not only is work forbidden in Sunday, but also "works, words, and thoughts" about "worldly employments and recreations." Instead, the whole day should be taken up with "public and private exercises of [one's] worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy."
Strict Sunday Sabbatarianism is sometimes called "Puritan Sabbath", which may be contrasted with "Continental Sabbath". The latter follows the reformed confessions of faith of Continental Europe such as the Heidelberg Catechism, which emphasize rest and worship on the Lord's Day, but do not explicitly forbid recreational activities. However, in practice, many continental Reformed Christians also abstain from recreation on the Sabbath, following the admonition by the Heidelberg Catechism's author Zacharaias Ursinus that "To keep holy the Sabbath, is not to spend the day in slothfulness and idleness".
Though first-day Sabbatarian practice declined in the 18th century, the First Great Awakening in the 19th century led to a greater concern for strict Sunday observance. The founding of the Day One Christian Ministries in 1831 was influenced by the teaching of Daniel Wilson.
Many Christian theologians believe that Sabbath observance is not binding for Christians today, citing for instance Col. 2:16-17. Some Christian non-Sabbatarians advocate physical Sabbath rest on any chosen day of the week, and some advocate Sabbath as a symbolic metaphor for rest in Christ; the concept of "Lord's Day" is usually treated as synonymous with "Sabbath". This non-Sabbatarian interpretation usually states that Jesus's obedience and the New Covenant fulfilled the laws of Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, and the Law of Moses, which are thus considered not to be binding moral laws, and sometimes considered abolished or abrogated. While Sunday is often observed as the day of Christian assembly and worship, in accordance with church tradition, Sabbath commandments are dissociated from this practice.
Non-Sabbatarian Christians also cite 2 Cor. 3:2-3, in which believers are compared to "a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written ... not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts"; this interpretation states that Christians accordingly no longer follow the Ten Commandments with dead orthodoxy ("tablets of stone"), but follow a new law written upon "tablets of human hearts". 3:7-11 adds that "if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory ..., will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? .... And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!" This is interpreted as teaching that New Covenant Christians are not bound by the Mosaic Law, and that Sabbath-keeping is not required. Further, because "love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:10), the new-covenant "law" is considered to be based entirely upon love and to rescind Sabbath requirements.
Top of Page prayers (WorshipAid)
Leader: Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong! Shout praises to the God of Jacob.
People: Sing as you play tambourines and the lovely sounding stringed instruments.
Leader: Sound the trumpets and start the New Moon Festival. We must also celebrate when the moon is full.
People: This is the law in Israel, and it was given to us by the God of Jacob. Leader: When you were in trouble, I rescued you, and from the thunderclouds, I answered your prayers.
People: But I would feed you with the finest bread and with the best honey until you were full.”
Unison: Only God Makes Us Strong
We confess Dear God, that we do not spend enough time in Your loving presence. We freely confess that we often need to find You in our day to day lives but tend to confine You, Dear Loving God to Sunday Morning. We come this morning asking You to help us find spiritual rest for each of us during each day.
We ask You to help us gather others to help each of us to find Your promised love and rest on this Sunday and every Sunday. Help us be free of the shackles of the past that demand observances without joy. Help us to be free to find Your wonderful restful and loving presence this morning and every morning. We pray for this in the name of Jesus, the Son of Man, who first showed us Your love. Amen.
Dear God, we come in celebration as we rest, worship and express our joy in these moments. We ask that these gifts carry on these holy and wonderful sentiments through each day of the week. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
We come to thank You Dear God for the rest and renewal we find each Sunday, each Sabbath. Help us to find renewal and not controversy on this day we celebrate the resurrection of Your Son. Help us find rest and spiritual renewal on this day and again and again throughout the week. O God, as we catch our breath and sit quietly help us to escape the constant ever growing need to do more and more. Help us to find joy in relaxation and fulfillment in Your presence. We pray for this together each and every moment in celebration of Your love for us. We pray in the name of the author of the New Covenant between God and his world. Amen.