Hebrews 4

            “I’ll rest when I die” was a phrase one of my congregants used whenever he was encouraged to stop moving for a while and rest.  He is now gone, having died at a relatively young age.  It is common in American culture to define rest as an almost optional act.  Indeed, we do not look on it as an act at all.  Many people feel guilt when they sit still, living with the belief that if they are not constantly busy and doing something that they are lazy.
            The kind of rest that the author of Hebrews was talking about was not just a future time of finally sitting in some kind of celestial recliner after a life of constant work.  “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”  It is not just contemporary people who have a problem with Sabbath; the ancient Jews did not always practice it with strict observance.
            I think we need to ask ourselves why we have this tendency to interpret “rest” as only occurring after a lot of hard work has happened.  If Sabbath rest has relevance to us now, perhaps our cultural model of work>rest is really to be reversed as rest>work.  God created humans on the sixth day.  God rested on the seventh day.  So did Adam and Eve.  That means the first people rested before they even had a chance to begin working the garden that God created.
            Maybe instead of inventing new ways to overfill our schedules and erase any margin from our day to day existence, we ought to create ways of ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives.  It just could be that our society’s epidemic of obesity, disease, and disorders come more from our inability to rest than anything else.  God does not only call us to an active Christian life; he calls us to rest, as well.
            God of Sabbath, just as you rested on the seventh day, help me to alter my life in such a way as to engraft new avenues of rest into my busy schedule.  In doing so, may I connect with you more deeply and find greater health and fulfillment in myself and my relationships.  To the glory of Jesus Christ I pray.  Amen.

Hebrews 11:23-26

            The Lectionary readings for today draw our attention to the life of Moses.  The unique circumstances of his birth turned into a distinctive adult life.  By faith, Moses, when he was a grown man, chose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  Instead of looking for a temporary reward or immediate comfort and satisfaction, Moses saw the end in sight and ordered his life’s trajectory accordingly.
            Because Moses had his priorities arranged in light of the future eternal inheritance, he was able to influence others appropriately in the present.  It would be easy for us to simply live for the day, to get lost in the daily demands of deadlines and duties.  But keeping the end in view is both helpful and necessary to having peace of mind, faith in heart, and purpose through action for today.
            The kind of reward we are looking forward to will determine what we set our affections upon.  If, like the Pharisees of old, we want an immediate recognition of our work and spiritual effort now, we may get it – but nothing more.  However, if we look ahead to an eternal reward, considering the reproach of Christ as greater wealth than the treasures of this world, then we will receive it, even though our present situations may not be pleasant.  It is the wise person who works today for a reward that will come another day.
            Eternal God, since you see all of history from beginning to end, help me to have a proper perspective of my circumstances, my relationships, and myself so that I might rightly order my loves and point them in the direction of Christ.  Amen.