Clevedon Presbyterian Church
Kawakawa Bay
Clevedon Kidz

Work to Love - Love to Work

June 10, 2018
Martin Baker

10 June 2018                   Work to Love – Love to Work                 Martin Baker


A couple of weeks ago  I introduced our 4 week series on the Ten Commandments

A few points.

We can think of the Ten Commandments as fence posts or boundaries on a sports field, or even a picture frame.

They surround and protect the life, vitality, creativity and faith of a community. They make what happens within that framework, possible.

Remember, that first of all the 10 commandments are for people who know freedom.  They are given to people on their way out of slavery.

 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” “I bore you on eagles’ wings.”

And the second point is that the 10 commandments need to be seen as a whole. They are all interlinked. Loving God and loving our neighbour are all part of the same deal.

Paul said in Galatians: “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

Our reading today is on the first 5 commandments

Exodus 20:3-11

3 you shall have no other gods before me.

4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

8 Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 For six days you shall labour and do all your work. 10 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, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 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 Us Pray….

We hear that the Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of stone.

They are all interrelated, but one of the ways we can look at the commandments is to think of the first 4, the first tablet, the ones we heard today, as being the vertical commandments. About our relationship with God.  And the second 6, which we will look at next week, are the horizontal ones. Our relationships with one another.

The way we relate to God (tablet one) shapes the way we relate to each other.  In other words, faithful worship of God leads to proper love of other people.  For example, having "no other gods before me" means that things we could make god,  money, sex, power, for example,  will not be the source of worship in our lives, and so will not be used to exploit others

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol ... you shall not bow down to them or worship them.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.

And, remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy ... you shall not do any work -- you, your son or your daughter, your male and female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

This morning I’d like us to think especially about the commandment to keep the Sabbath Holy – because it’s a commandment that is about things that are very real to us in the decisions we make now. We don’t talk about the commandment very much, but one of the biggest changes in my lifetime has been around how we use our time.

If I drive into town this afternoon there will be a cue of cars on the Mt Wellington off ramp all going to Sylvia Park.  We are busy 7 days a week in a way weren’t, or couldn’t be, in a previous generation.  Sunday is the only day we’ve got off to get to Sylvia Park. I need to work on Sunday to pay the rent or the mortgage. We love people coming to church on Sunday morning, but if they are not there, could that be more to do with a lack of time rather than a lack of interest? 

Keeping the Sabbath Holy. It is a command to the whole community.

I talked a few weeks ago about changes in communications technology.  People here over about 40 I guess, will remember mobile phones coming into common use. They will remember a time before the internet. Children like mine, born in the 1990’s can’t imagine a time when there weren’t mobile phones.  They are perplexed about how we managed back then. They may never have mailed a hand written letter to someone.  How many of us feel some anxiety if we forget our mobile phones, or loose coverage or internet access. Just think, it was only 20 years ago that none of us worried about any of those things.

But think of the other things.  Think about how our notion of being busy has changed.

Having lots of time for holidays and leisure was seen as a sign of success. Now, quite often, the people we view as being most successful are also the people who we think of as being the busiest. Important jobs gave you time for golf and tennis and long lunches, now important jobs are often the jobs that demand longest hours at work and mean we have the least time with our families and friends. ‘She’s really busy’, and what is the opposite of that?  

My children will probably not know a time when earning  1 wage was enough to pay the mortgage and support a parent at home committed to raising a family.    That was what my own parents assumed.  We often find a split here in our values. On one hand the importance of spending time with our children and families, and on the other, living in an economy where that has become so difficult for so many.

But we also find in scripture that looking back has its own dangers.  It can even be a sign of faithlessness.   In Exodus, the Hebrew people when freed at great cost from slavery in the desert still, at times wanted to go back. Sure we were slaves, back then, but at least we knew where we stood.  We knew our place.  But God calling us into the desert promising us a future. We can’t go back to those days.

Whatever our view of the past, we believe God still calls us, still promises us. Jesus kept saying follow me.

And here we have today with all we know, all we’ve experienced, a command to keep the Sabbath.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about what this might mean and I’ve been collecting a few quotes here and there which I’ve found quite helpful

From the Economist

Leisure time is now the stuff of myth. Some are cursed with too much. Others find it too costly to enjoy. Many spend their spare moments staring at a screen of some kind, even though doing other things (visiting friends, volunteering at a church) tends to make people happier. Not a few presume they will cash in on all their stored leisure time when they finally retire, whenever that may be. In the meantime, being busy has its rewards. Otherwise why would people go to such trouble?

The American writer Sebastian de Grazier said:

Lean back under a tree, put your arms behind your head, wonder at the pass we’ve come to, smile and remember that the beginnings and ends of all our great enterprise are untidy

“I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” — Martin Luther

The reason we keep the Sabbath, according to Deuteronomy, is that our people used to know what life was like when we had a lord named Pharaoh who did not allow days off.

So this morning, put yourselves in the feet of the Exodus generation. For years they served Pharaoh, a burdensome master who gave no days off and when complaints arose.” God graciously intruded into that reality and said to the people, “You will no longer serve Pharaoh, you will serve me. And to serve me means that once every seven days, you, your children, and your workers, even your animals get the day off.”

So as you think about your time, how busy you are and what it means to honour the command to keep the Sabbath, I’d like to leave you with these points:

First honouring the Sabbath elevates us above our work.  We are more than what we do. We are more than our jobs.

The commandments begin with a reminder that the people were once slaves in Egypt. Having a day in which we are no longer subject to the weight and obligation of work affirms a freedom.  We are not to remain slaves to our work.

We have obligations to those responsible to us.   We think about those people who serve us. Often on low wages, working long hours. We think of those who work in terrible conditions so that we can buy cheap shoes and clothes.   The command tells us that even those who serve us have rights. Honouring the Sabbath brings a concern for justice to the way people work.  What does it mean for us to be especially conscious of those who are paid the least? 

Honouring the Sabbath is also about strengthening relationships, family and social ties - We need to make time to focus on your relationships with family and friends. How much time are we going to make for those relationships this coming week?

Interestingly, the command also reminds us of livestock and the animals in our care.  It affirms the care, dignity and good treatment of animals.  We have to care for and be mindful even of the animals that work for us

We’ve got so much on. So busy. But here this morning. Something greater to which we are called. To pause and reflect on our lives. We are commanded to love each other. That’s what the Sabbath is about.  And that’s the most important thing to spend our time doing.