Now of course I understand that these are fabulously extravagant gifts and they are also gifts that would be given to a new king. The symbolism is powerful in these gifts from the Wise Men. And I can imagine that the gold, frankincense and myrrh were also practical for Joseph and Mary as they had to escape to Egypt and then travel all the way back to Nazareth afterwards. They would need the wealth to live while they were uprooted from their home. So it makes sense now, but to me as a young child I had a hard time understanding the gift.
At our retreat this year and for the few weeks leading up to the retreat, we are going to be talking about the Sabbath. I suspect that when most Christians think of Sabbath, they think of a fancy name for Sunday and then go immediately to what we should or should not do on Sunday. We think of Sabbath and many think of Sabbath observance and what are the requirements or restrictions for Sunday. In the coming weeks leading up to the retreat, I want us to start thinking more in terms of this day as being a gift from God.
Now I suspect that to many when we think of Sabbath as a gift from God we may think like I did when I was young about gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts to Jesus. We may think, “Ok, so the Sabbath is a gift from God. What do I do with this gift?” It seems like more of a extravagant burden than a useful gift. Yet I firmly believe that the Sabbath is indeed a very practical and useful gift from God. Now to be sure, we must glorify God in how we use this gift. We can’t take something this valuable and do whatever we want with it. That would be like taking a gift of a million dollars and going to Las Vegas and gambling it all away. That just doesn’t make sense. God gives us this gift so that we can thank and glorify him but it’s still a gift from God to us and it is indeed for our benefit.
Dr. Stuart Gordon has studied the Sabbath extensively and has concluded that in God’s gift of the Sabbath he gives us rest, freedom and joy. That is a long way from asking the question, “Can I play baseball on Sunday?” God wants us to have rest. God wants us to have freedom. And God wants us to have joy. All of those things are wrapped up in God’s gift of Sabbath to us and that is what we want to be looking at this spring. The Sabbath is an imminently useful and practical gift that God wants us to use for our benefit and his glory. I hope you come to the Sunday School class and the retreat so that you can better understand this gift as well as the most amazing Giver.