Keeping the Sabbath Holy
When I was growing up there were many restrictions on what we could do on Sundays. I am pretty sure we never went to the beach. We certainly weren’t allowed to buy anything, not even an ice cream on a hot Sunday afternoon in summer. We were told that buying things made it necessary for someone to work. But my father had to work on Sundays because he was a pastor.
The Pharisees often challenged Jesus about His behaviour on the Sabbath. They were incensed when He healed people. Even the fact that the disciples picked grains of corn to eat on the Sabbath made the Pharisees mad.
A Typical Sabbath in Hereford
I wonder what the Pharisees would have thought about Hereford Baptist Church if they had been around last Sunday. For HBC Sunday starts just before midnight when the Night Shift team arrive to man the foyer until about 03:00. During that time hot and cold drinks are provided free of charge for anyone who wanders in off the street. There are several nightclubs close to the church, and Night Shift began as a ministry to the clubbers.
A few hours after Night Shift duty musicians, pastors, welcome team members, those involved with the children and youth, and various others arrive. There are many rotas. Church involves a lot of work. Those who give their time on Sunday (or any other day) are working for the Kingdom, not breaking the legalistic rules that confronted many of us when we were growing up.
The thing about unnecessary rules is that they put people off. Crowds followed Jesus because the rules were simple: Love God, love people. I don’t read in the Bible that the Pharisees needed to invest in any crowd control measures. But they did like the comfortable and the conventional.
Anything But Conventional
The HBC service last Sunday morning was anything but conventional. Our youth pastor used the L Factor set from the Holiday Bible Club that ran earlier in the week. He was ably assisted by our youth and other helpers. It was good to welcome parents of children who attended the L Factor, and the ‘Treat or Treat’ party the church laid on in a local park in the evening of 31 October. All were welcomed with a choice of hot or cold drinks on arrival, and refreshments and cakes were also provided after the service.
The L Factor was all about living, laughing and loving. That surely is what Jesus did. Jesus cast aside the rules as He lived life surrounded by people who needed Him. Scripture may not mention Jesus laughing, but I truly believe that He laughed a lot. But the thing that Jesus did more than anything was that He loved people. Unconditionally. I’m grateful to everyone who gives their time on any day of the week to be part of the various ministries of Hereford Baptist Church. This is not work. It is love. It may be time consuming and it may be tiring, but it was just the same for Jesus. Love consumed Him and sometimes it tired Him out. It has to consume us too. When it does it will touch people who may not have met Jesus yet.
And one other thing in case you haven’t worked it out. I love my church.