The Sabbath Day

We received an anonymous postcard at Concordia containing only a few hand-written Bible references. They all relate to the institution of the Sabbath Day, or the Day of Rest among the people of Israel. Since there is no way to communicate directly with the sender of this postcard, I will post a response here in the hope that it will be found.

God commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath Day in the Ten Commandments, and connected this commandment with the order of Creation. God Himself rested on the seventh day, and so He set it apart (sanctified it) for this special use.

The commandment regarding the Sabbath was given in the context of the Ten Commandments, which were part of the covenant that God established with Israel. The Ten Commandments were also a summary of the moral law, written in paradise upon the heart of man, before the Fall into sin. However, the covenant included more than the moral law. There were also ceremonial (worship) laws and civil laws for Israel to follow. Some of them were replaced during the 1,450 years between the Exodus and the birth of the Messiah, because the civil arrangement of the Israelites changed dramatically through that period. Even the ceremonial laws were not always implemented rigorously. In fact, it seems they were rarely kept according to God’s original commands.

While the Ten Commandments summarize moral law, the commandment about the Sabbath Day is a little different. In addition to moral law, it also relates to the specific worship practices that God wanted the Israelites to follow. It was not cancelled in New Testament times by anyone. Rather, it was fulfilled along with the rest of the commandments by Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus have both forgiveness of their sins and righteousness in God’s sight, including the righteousness that Jesus earned by keeping the Sabbath. These are gifts from God, not a result of our own efforts. They come through faith, not by our own works of righteousness.

For God’s people in these New Testament times, the Ten Commandments are still helpful. Inasmuch as they summarize the moral law for us, they tell us how God would have all people live at all times. So we teach them all as binding upon Christians today, though not as a condition for obtaining salvation.

With regard to the Sabbath Day, we follow the word of God as written by St. Paul in Colossians 2:16-17, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” We do not object to anyone observing the Sabbath, but we do object to the imposition of this observance as a condition for salvation. Consider that this question was part of the issue before the apostolic council in Acts 15, but they did not ask Gentile Christians to observe the Sabbath.

A fuller explanation of our position on this may be found in the [Lutheran Confessions][lc], especially the Large Catechism on the [Third Commandment][tc]. Please consider that as having been repeated here. All of the Bible passages cited on the postcard we received are in harmony with the Lutheran position on the Sabbath Day.

Weekly Parish Schedule

Since the birth of our newest gifts from God, the twins Leah and Lucy, I’ve been in a period of adjustment in keeping the weekly parish schedule. In case anyone is not aware, the schedule stands as follows:

  1. Sundays are work days. We often include classes or meetings Sunday afternoon or evening. Usually, the work day is finished some time in the afternoon. After that, I begin my “weekend.”
  2. Mondays are for the pastor’s family. Occasionally there are meetings or conferences that fall on Mondays. In those weeks, we usually skip the “pastor’s family” day.
  3. Tuesdays have been designated for work in and around The Dalles, but last year’s parish discussion about our weekly schedule included an encouragement that at least part of Tuesday should be a continuation of Pastor’s “weekend.” Since most church meetings are not scheduled until Tuesday evening, I’ve been taking Tuesdays as an additional “family day,” but also holding the possibility of a church activity scheduled any time on Tuesday. Some conferences fall on Tuesdays, including our monthly winkel with pastors in northern Oregon.
  4. Wednesdays have been designated for work in and around Hood River. When I can, I avoid scheduling anything in The Dalles on a Wednesday. I usually aim to leave Hood River at 5:30 PM, but the evening hours are still available for meetings in the Hood River area. The only times we have usually had such meetings are the seasons of Advent or Lent, when we may schedule mid-week services at Concordia. It has been convenient to schedule meetings in Klickitat late Wednesday afternoon, because I can stop there on the way back to The Dalles. When in Hood River, I typically prepare quick meals in the church kitchen.
  5. Thursday mornings are designated for work in and around The Dalles. I usually head home between 12:00 and 1:00 for lunch at home. An hour or so later, I travel to Hood River, where the remainder of the day’s work is to happen. The afternoon/evening are handled like Wednesday, except we don’t usually have any meetings in Hood River on Thursday evenings. Confirmation classes often meet on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons.
  6. Fridays are designated for work in and around The Dalles. When an event is scheduled at Bethany on Tuesday evening, Friday evening is the first weeknight available for other work in The Dalles. Many people avoid committing to meetings on Friday evening or Saturday, so it can be challenging to find a weeknight for weekly meetings in The Dalles. We have had confirmation class on Friday mornings or afternoons in The Dalles, coinciding with District 21’s late start/early release program.
  7. Saturdays are also designated for work in and around The Dalles. Bethany’s elders have been meeting monthly on Saturday mornings, and our men’s breakfast was meeting just before that. Saturdays can be a convenient time for meeting with individuals. Saturday evenings, from 5 to 6 PM, I have a scheduled regular time for private absolution. Members of either church are welcome to take advantage of this time.

There are often extra things we would like to include in the schedule, and there are always compromises to be made. I usually like to be working by 9 AM, but that schedule has rarely been met in the last six months. Most days I’m up between 5:30 and 6:30 AM, well ahead of 9, but I am needed in various and unpredictable ways for up to three hours as my dear wife tries to make up for precious sleep lost overnight. Between meeting those needs, getting in some extra work on projects, and preparing for the day, I have found it impossible to maintain a regular morning schedule. I’ve even tried scheduling meetings at 9 AM in the hope that the necessity would impose a regularity to my mornings, but it hasn’t worked yet. I must apologize again to those whose meetings I have missed. (You know who you are.)

I’m open to any improvements you may have for our weekly parish schedule, recognizing that it represents a compromise between the churches in our parish, and between my duties at home and at church. As far as I can tell, there’s no quick fix for my variable morning schedule. I do have an idea, however, that might help. In the last seven months I have mostly abandoned [the personal organization system][gtd] that I’d been using up through December, 2011. Back when I couldn’t predict what I’d be doing in the next hour or two, it was an unneeded layer of complexity. But now, things have settled enough so that I may be able to regain some control over the workflows of my life. I’m going to revisit that system and see how it works.

— Pastor

Prayer Requests

We are asked to include the following people in our prayers:

  • Kathy B., who has stopped her recent cancer treatment regimen due to neuropathy. She is waiting to see what further options her doctor may have.

  • Mindy W., sister-in-law of Susan B. and neighbor of Tom & Linda G. also needs new options and treatment for cancer.

  • Jim M., Julie G.’s Father, is recovering from triple bypass and heart problems. Pray for healing and strengthening of faith.

  • James S., son of Nikki L., is experiencing a resurgence of cancer. Pray for healing and faith.

  • Jan T., friend of Linda G. and Dianna A., is also fighting cancer. Again, pray for healing and faith.

Prayer requests for publication should be submitted in writing to Pastor Jacobsen. There are prayer request cards on the narthex table. Please be sure that the person for whom prayer is requested would not object to their need becoming public knowledge.