One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.” - Luke 6:1-5 (NRSV)
I picture the wheat fields of my midwestern childhood, the shoulder-high crop stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction. I picture Jesus and his friends making their way through the field, and the hungry disciples plucking a handful of grain to eat as they walk.
But look! Here are the enforcers, right here in the fields with them! These enforcers can’t see the growth and sustenance and new life all around them. All they can see is the broken rule.
I get it. I have loved the rules. Many times, I have stood in fields of abundance, noting only the infractions of those close to me. But recently I found myself on the other side of the rule equation: the enforcee rather than the enforcer.
It took a while to hear the voice of Christ over the chorus of accusation. When I did hear the voice, it was clear and sweet. He told me his name. And then I remembered what I had forgotten. Among Christ’s many names, none of them is The Lord of the Rules.
Lord of the Sabbath, you offer plenty, rest, grace. Thank you. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.