June 3, 2018, Doug Norris, Daniel Reed
(sermon audio begins at 23:38)
Some years ago Heather and I had a very fine trip to France, including a stay in a small village in the Alps. We had a message from our hostess as to how to get there : “Turn off the highway into the village, take the left at the roundabout, second right, then run over the sleeping policeman…” Which of course was a bit disconcerting. Turns out a ‘sleeping policeman’ (flic dormant) is a speedbump, a traffic calming device.
There is parable unfolding right out here in front of the church. The parable of the unpopular stop sign. A study in human nature. You understand the various options : Some pretend it doesn’t apply – blow right through. Some give it a nod by a tap on the brake, just enough for the brake-light to go on, in case anyone is watching, but essentially no stopping happens. And the classic ‘roller’ – nobody nearby, its all safe, I’ll keep the wheels turning. And about one out of ten nails it – full stop, look in all directions, turn the radio off, check the tire pressure, count to eleven, slowly pull away.
At some point this summer the city will work here on Glen Rd at the same problem that occupied the people of Moses 3,000 years ago. How do we get people to stop? We need a traffic calming device. There is far more study about the idea of sabbath than can be delivered here in 10 minutes.
Bible study – book of Deuteronomy – a secret – if you read it closely it looks like it was written at the time of Moses, and had to do with the life of a budding community hacking their way through the early years, in the wilderness having fled slavery in Egypt – in fact it was written hundreds of years later, at a very different time, in the golden years when the nation was established and had all the apparatus of a state. Including power and authority, and inequality, and people were being left behind, the old community traditions were being lost.
Here is a characterization of the two periods , which may look something like our own cultural location : In the wilderness was a pioneer time, survival was not at all guaranteed, there was a requirement for dependance, on one another, and on the presence of God. Then, in the golden years, a sense of accomplishment, we did it! Maybe we don’t need God any more, and maybe we are in fact the authors of our own success. So at this later time these books were written, to say – remember the importance of this dependance – one day a week we will stop our frantic work, and we will see that we are in fact given all we need – we do not create this goodness, we participate in God’s abundance. If we lose sight of this we will live frantically, anxious, driven, and we will lose sight of our neighbours. Sabbath not just as an annoying rule to be followed, but a reminder of grace.
There was an ad in the weekend paper : high end condos coming on the market – You deserve this ! You have been a hard driving success right from the start and you are still driven to succeed! You deserve to live here. It is the cultural narrative of our day. And it becomes very hard to stop.
A result of living unaware of ‘sabbath’ is the need to do it all for ourselves, a general lack of trust in God’s goodness, and driven to accumulate, we end up driving all over each other. Because we no longer know how to stop. Something better is possible…
I don’t know exactly how this story ends, so I’ve asked Daniel to pick it up from here.