Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Does Sabbath Rest Mean?

Quoting from Professor John Pless's paper "Taking The Divine Service Into The Week: Liturgy And Vocation," in which he quotes Vilmos Vatja:
To him [Luther] Sabbath rest means more than a pause from work. It should be an opportunity for God to do His work on man. God wants to distract man from his daily toil and so open him to God's gifts. To observe Sabbath is not a good work which man could offer to God. On the contrary it means pausing from all our works and letting God do His work in us and for us.

Thus Luther's picture of the Sabbath is marked by the passivity of man and the activity of God. And it applies not only to certain holy days on the calendar, but to the Christian life in its entirety, testifying to man's existence as a creature of God who waits by faith for the life to come. Through God's activity in Christ, man is drawn into the death and resurrection of the Redeemer and is so recreated a new man in Christ. The Third Commandment lays on us no obligations for specific works of any kind (not even spiritual or cultic works) but rather directs us to the work of God. And we do not come into contact with the latter except in the Service, where Christ meets us in the means of grace.

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