It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (Luke 23:54–56)
It was the saddest of days. The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us lay cold in a tomb. What do you do when the one who raised the dead is dead himself?
The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem to Golgotha to the tomb felt not only grief but confusion. The man they had thought was the deliverer was dead. Had they been wrong all along?
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8). They did not have the answers to their questions, but they had the command of God. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God (Exodus 20:9–10). And so, the faithful women did what their mothers and fathers and Israelites since the time of Moses had done. They kept the Sabbath.
Harper Lee, who died today at 89, understood the things of earth. In her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the descriptions of waxy camellias, droopy houses, and shoes crunching on gravel painted a small-town world that we recognized. We recognized the people in her world, too. There were oppressors and oppressed, hypocrites and cynics, and one quiet man with a conscience.
I was a child of the ’80s. My Christian parents took me to pro-life marches, and we had a bumper sticker that said “Abortion stops a beating heart.” But then things quieted down. In spite of all the activism and rallies, not much changed. One Christian woman of my parents’ generation told me, “I think after the ’80s and ’90s passed with no change in laws, my generation got complacent and threw our hands up.”
Christmas is a time for meal planning. Some of you finalized your menus weeks ago; others are just now making the shopping list. But as we give so much effort to the feasting that marks the birth of Jesus, it is easy to forget his words: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
Making time for God’s Word is hard during the holidays, but it is vital. If you neglect your Bible this Christmas, you will be putting your soul on a restricted diet. Rather than starving your spiritual life, I hope you will spend some time planning ways to feast on God’s Word.
When a pastor changes his theology, does he have a duty to let his congregation know? Should he make the shift subtly, in the hope his people will follow, or does he have a responsibility to make his view plain and let the chips fall where they may?
This is one of the many intriguing questions raised by a recent off-Broadway show called The Christians. The play, written by Lucas Hnath, is no mocking send-up of evangelicals; in fact, it deals seriously with the most serious subject of all: hell.