There is a prayer I have heard often which asks, “Grant O Merciful God, that your church, being gathered in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name.”
It is a good message and a marvelous request we make in uttering it; but I doubt we understand the reason for our having to offer it; because we say it so quickly without considering what it is asking us to do, as well as what we are asking of God to provide.
Isaiah gave an explanation toward the end of his writings when he said, “If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness, and our gloom be like the noonday.” What I think the prophet meant was, “Quit your bickering among yourselves and get busy doing what God has told you to do. Honor my commandments by keeping them. Honor me by doing the work I have given you to do.”
These are the tasks you are to do every day. After all you are the benefactors of his compassion and mercy. He forgives all your sins, and heals all your infirmities, he offers sustenance; He even redeems your life from the grave. The Lord is indeed full of compassion and mercy; the Psalmist tells us.
Keeping the commandments to the very letter was what the Hebrews in the synagogues persisted in teaching. Jesus, in a particular instance, taught something a bit different. He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath when a woman entered. She was bent and crippled and had been for 18 years. When he saw her he said, “Woman you are set free from you ailment.” He laid hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
The leader of the synagogue was indignant because Jesus had done work and healed on the Sabbath. Jesus answered him by giving the example of how each of them also worked on the Sabbath by the simple act of feeding and watering their livestock. His action told how the laws of God were given to free mankind to do the good works He would set before them. The laws were given to show God’s love for us; our love for God; and that love is to be shared among the neighbors he placed us with. Go and do the work he has given you to do. Amen.
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.