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June 7, 2020 “Don’t just Do something, SIT there!”
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
The 1st Sunday after the festival of Pentecost is always Trinity Sunday. At this point in the Church Year, we celebrate that God has now revealed Himself fully to a creation that has rebelled & forgotten Him. He hasn’t forgotten us; but we can’t know Him without Him revealing Himself. So, thru Advent & Christmas, we see the Father sending His Son thru a virgin-birth; thru Lent & Easter, we see the Son giving Himself to save/redeem us; and thru Pentecost we see the Spirit arrive to bring souls into the eternal Church of Jesus Christ.
Now, with God being revealed to us so completely, we have been given an unshakable hope & comfort, no matter what is going on in our life, or in our world. Receiving God’s Holy Baptism, we bear His Triune name; & being connected with Him, fear is chased away from us. In Three Persons, He gives us a new life. The Father protects & provides, the Son forgives & saves, the Spirit guides & strengthens us in holy living.
There is a liturgical part of our Divine Services -in the hymnal- that we don’t normally use. It’s called ‘The Gradual’. It’s a short Psalm verse that would be spoken in-between the reading of the OT & Epistle lessons for the Day. The Gradual for Trinity Sunday is a small part of Psalm 145, which says: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. I will meditate on Your wonderful works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds.”
That Gradual verse notes the 2 main actions of our Christian life: meditate & proclaim. We first meditate on God’s wonderful, saving works for us, and then we proclaim the great deeds of His love, so that others will know Him. Meditate and proclaim.
Now, to MEDITATE is to ‘be still’ and ‘to rest’ in the way God Himself rested on the 7th day of creation; that Sabbath Rest for us is for worship & prayer. And then to PROCLAIM is to ‘go & do’; to live as a witness in our words & behaviors. So, these sum up the Christian’s life = meditate and proclaim. Our life of faith is in those 2 things: to ‘not move’ and to ‘move’; to ‘sit’ and to ‘do.’
Has anyone ever said to you, “Don’t just sit there; DO something!”
Maybe you remember -like me- your dad or mom saying that to you when you were a kid: ‘Don’t just SIT there; DO something!’ I think that fits our American attitude pretty well; but God’s Church-attitude would be a little different than that. There needs to be time for BOTH doing and also sitting. And I think it would be helpful for us to hear that phrase turned around: “Don’t just DO something; SIT there!” God says both versions to us in His Holy Word.
Let me share a true story from a young man named Tony, which illustrates this ‘meditate & proclaim,’ both sitting and doing in a Christian’s life. The first part of the story, Tony tells like this:
Our leader shouted, “Okay gang, are you ready to go out there and tell ‘em about Jesus?’ and we shouted back, ‘Yea, let’s go!’ “Then get on the bus!” he said. So we rushed out of the church and onto the bus; we were singing & clapping. Then we began to drive deeper into the depths of the inner-city; gradually we stopped singing, and all of us college kids stared out the windows quietly. The bus pulled up in front of one of the worst looking housing projects in Philadelphia. Our leader jump up, opened the door, and said, ‘alright gang, get out there and tell ‘em about Jesus. I’ll be back here at five o’clock.’
We hesitantly filed off the bus & stood there on the corner, had a prayer, and then we spread out. I walked down the sidewalk and stopped before a huge tenement house. I gulped, said a prayer, and ventured inside. There was a terrible odor; windows were busted out; no lights in the hallways. I walked up one flight of stairs toward the door where I heard a baby crying. I knocked on the door. The door cracked open, and a woman peered out at me; she was holding a naked baby. ‘What do you want’? she said in a very harsh voice.
I told her that I wanted to tell her about Jesus. Suddenly she swung the door open and came out cursing me, all the way down the hall, down the flight of steps, and out to the sidewalk. I felt terrible; a failure. I said to myself. ‘Oh man; some great Christian I am.
I wasn’t prepared for that, Lord; but, why wouldn’t she want to hear about Jesus?’
Our ‘going & doing’ is good; it’s a necessary & important part of life. God himself is very ‘outgoing’. We confess the truth that the Son is ‘begotten’ =comes forth from= the Father; and the Spirit ‘proceeds’ from both the Father and the Son. He didn’t need to, but God created something outside Himself; He made the universe & everything in it, including Man = male & female. Within this creation, God made a ‘going’ people. He made Abraham a wonderer. He sent Moses to give movement to the Israelites out of Egypt. Remember that the Passover Meal was to be eaten in traveling clothes, with shoes on their feet, and with a walking staff in their hand. That Exodus commemorated the saving-movement of the people that God chose to be His own to represent Him in the fallen world.
God kept them going for 40 years; & God did not let them stop & build a temple for His worship; they had a movable Tabernacle of tents. And remember the Ark of the Covenant.
It had rings on the bottom, & poles thru those rings to carry it from place to place. Those poles were not to be removed, says Exodus 25; it had to be ready to go.
When God The Son arrived on earth, HE was always ‘on the go’. He led His disciples all over Judea & Galilee, with no place to call home. Jesus taught that God-The-Holy-Spirit blows where & when He will = like the wind; always on the move. He scatters the kingdom’s workers all over the face of the earth, to go proclaim the wonderful saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ, & to show what godly living is, for all people & tribes & languages.
This is the positive aspect of GOING for us. We have been made strangers & pilgrims on this passing earth; it’s not our permanent home. Or as Hebrews 13 puts it, ‘for here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.’ Our movement as the people of God is heavenward & constant. And God is with us in all our GOING. This is our faith: we rejoice in our going, and we live that good news before others, so that they might go with us in the same hope in Christ.
The negative part of being ‘on the go’ is that we can go without real purpose/preparation. We are a ‘rush-a-holic’ culture, which tempts us to forget the other part of God’s psalm & command; we just move faster & faster for no godly purpose. +In our grandparents day, people rarely went out to eat. Then came restaurants, then drive-ins, & now drive-thrus. +First we had wood stoves, then electric ovens, & now microwaves. +First buttons, then zippers, now Velcro. +First pony-express mail, now instant world-wide email.
God wanted us on the GO, but not just faster; He wants purposeful & thoughtful movement of living. And so He also commands for us to REST. ‘Don’t just DO something; SIT there,’ …He says. God Himself alternates between movement and rest; it’s a principle of life.
The grand-finale of His creation-work was to schedule one whole day out of seven to rest, and to commune with Him, & meditate on how everything HE did was very good.
Then in Exodus 20, God makes His own 7th Day Rest a command for us = His 3rd commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day, by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. …..>
On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy = for you.
From the beginning of this creation, every week of our lives has one day of Sabbath Rest. Not because we’re tired; but He wants us to SIT with Him. God never tires & never sleeps, but HE rested. The blessing for US is that our Creator is with us in this rest. This ‘rest’ is essential to balance & direct us for when we go & do something.
So, the Sabbath is the Day of Meditation; a regular, devotional sitting down with God. This is why we build church buildings, in order to come out of the moving world, and out of our moving lives, and into His immovable presence. The 7-day sabbath cycle is the schedule of God for our lives; and our life of faith is the reason that we come & be still = to know that He is God, and to meditate on His wonderful works.
Jesus obeyed His Father’s will, says Luke 5, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” It says, “on the Sabbath Day He went into the Synagogue, as was His custom.”
Jesus also expected His disciples to observe Him & follow The Father’s will. In Mark 6, Jesus said, “come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
As God alternates between ‘resting and going’ that becomes our schedule & our blessing. Because then we will meditate on His wonderful works, so that we can proclaim His great deeds ~ Ps.145. The Lord prepares us for ‘going’ by having us ‘rest’ with Him; and then He gives us ‘rest’ when we are weary from our ‘going.’
Now, let’s finish the story of that weary college boy.
After being chased out of the dingy apartment by that angry woman, Tony says: “I sat down on the curb and cried. Then I looked up, and noticed a store on the corner, with cracked windows, and bars over the door. And I remembered: the baby had no diaper on, & the mother was smoking. So, I went to the store, bought a box of diapers and a pack of cigarettes. I walked back to the tenement house, said a prayer, walked in & up the stairs, stood before the same door, gulped, and knocked.
When she opened the door I handed in the box of diapers and the cigarettes. She looked at them, then looked at me for a long moment, and said, ‘come in.’ And gruffly, she said, ‘sit down.’ I sat down on the old sofa, and began to play with the baby. I put a diaper on the baby, even tho I’d never done that before.
When the woman offered me a cigarette, I took one & puffed on it, even tho I’d never smoked before. I stayed there for a couple of hours, talking, playing with the baby, listening to the woman. About 4 o’clock, the woman looked at me and said, ‘now tell me, what’s a nice college boy like you doing in a place like this?’ So I told her everything I knew about Jesus; it took -maybe- five minutes. Then she said, ‘pray for me and my baby that we can make it out of here alive.’ So I prayed.
That time spent on the curb, out of action, sitting with the Lord, was very valuable for Tony. Isaiah 30 says, “in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness & trust is your strength.”
The world thinks it knows better, & says, ‘if you stop, you get behind. If you don’t keep moving, you’ll get run over.’ It’s all ‘go-go-go’. Even the world’s ‘rest time’ is often just for active personal amusement, not seeking our Creator or purpose. But the Lord’s Sabbath is a quiet rest; a sitting in meditative devotion; listening to the Word of Life, & speaking with your Creator; it’s a recovery-time for strength; & preparation for the next time of action.
God says: ‘Don’t just DO something, SIT there!’ At least 3 Psalms say, ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong, and take heart, and wait for the Lord.’ There is time for both meditating, and for proclaiming the faith in active living. In our daily going & doing, we’re exercising God-given control over our life in our work & home. But we need help to do that in the right ways; & esp when we can’t control some things.
So, God calls us HERE to sit with Him; to listen & learn; to acknowledge His control over us & all things. Like Tony, in order to have the most productive week of ‘doing’ our faith & life, we first need to humbly ‘sit’ on the curb, & consider God’s teaching-words for us.
As daily sleeping is to our bodies & minds, so is the weekly Sabbath Rest to our heart & soul. By His own Word & Spirit, this time of worship is for us to gain a heart of wisdom & God’s own perspective. As Jesus taught us, ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.’
The Christian Faith acknowledges that our Triune = Creator, Savior & Sanctifier knows what’s best for us. Six days is enough for work, & one day of worship & rest with God is essential. For six days we are going & doing & using & honoring His gift of life.
And then on that 7th day we sit to acknowledge & honor the truth that our life has real meaning because -in Jesus- there is something more to come: an eternal Sabbath Rest.
‘Don’t just do something, SIT there.’ And then, ‘Don’t just sit there, DO something.’ Those are not opposites, they’re alternates; and they BOTH have their time & purpose in the weekly schedule for God’s Holy People.
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
I will meditate on Your wonderful works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds.”