Let My People Go!

Deuteronomy 5:1-15; Luke 6:1-5


Good morning! For those of you who weren’t here the last couple Sundays, this sermon is part three of a six-part series on the Ten Commandments. If you missed any of these sermons, you can go to the church’s website and read the written text of my sermons. And if you want an extended discussion of the Ten Commandments, please check out my podcast at softidolatry.com. Also, today, we’re celebrating the sacrament of baptism for Autumn Marie Kelly. Autumn’s grandmother is Carol Morris; Carol is one of our newest members and I’m happy to see that we’ve pulled some of her family into our orbit here at FPC.

On its face, the Fourth Commandment, to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy, is a pretty straightforward commandment. Like so many pieces of scripture, it’s easy enough to understand, but it’s really tough to live into. I say that, but honestly, I’m not sure I really understood this commandment until I went to seminary. I thought this just meant that I was supposed to go to church on Sundays. It does. And much, much more.

I did my field education in a small Presbyterian church in the West End of Pittsburgh called Crafton Heights. It’s a residential neighborhood with no real business district, and most Pittsburghers aren’t even aware that it’s a separate neighborhood—you could drive through it without noticing.

The Pastor of the church is a man named Dave. He was an incredible mentor and I learned so much from him, so much more than I learned in my classes. My first big lesson came because I really annoyed the, the stuff out of him.

It was on a Sunday morning, during the coffee hour after worship. I asked him what was going on the following week and what he wanted me to focus on. This was probably the third or fourth time I’d asked this question. The previous times I asked the question, he said, “we’ll talk about it on Tuesday,” which was when they had their weekly staff meetings.

But this time Pastor Dave said, “Al, stop asking me that question!”

Pastor Dave is a kind and gentle man, yet he gave a forceful answer.

I’d crossed a boundary and I didn’t realize it.

Pastor Dave keeps the Sabbath; he’s very serious about the Fourth Commandment.

However, he believes that worship is something different from work—even if part of this job is to lead worship on a Sunday morning. Dave also makes pastoral visits on Sundays; I think he classifies that as fellowship. He also takes Mondays off. He doesn’t go into the church on Mondays or do any church business. That’s how he practices Sabbath.

Pastor Dave refuses to do any church business on Sundays. That means no committee meetings. That means no work-related conversations with seminary interns during coffee hour. Period.