Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

February 7, 2009 The Sabbath and Work, Part 2

READ: Matthew 12:9-14
9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue.
10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?—so that they might accuse him.
11 He said to them, Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?
12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
13 Then he said to the man, Stretch out your hand. And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.
14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

One of the best ways to get yourself fired is to demonstrate just what a fool the boss is in front of an audience. But even worse than that would be having the boss know that you know more than he or she does and then having them set up the situation that'll get you fired. That's exactly what happened in this passage.

There is something in human nature here. We just don't have the humility to let someone else know more than we do. Pastors are especially prone to this. Everyone expects us to really know God, to be really knowledgeable about theology and philosophy and all things religious. We imagine ourselves to be the most educated in our congregations on these subjects. We also project out to our people that we really know what we're doing. So when someone comes to substitute preach for us we want them to be interesting, but not too interesting; a good preacher, but not too good. We don't want to be shown up.

What could have saved the Pharisees becoming fixed on destroying Jesus? The only thing I can think of is if they had been trained in humility by whoever discipled them. But no. They were trained to "strut their stuff". Just like most pastors today, the Pharisees were experts at one-upsmanship. It is so hard to be upstaged and genuinely smile in admiration of the person who did it. As the Scripture says, "rejoice with those who rejoice."

Jon

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