When I was fourteen or fifteen, my kind father tried to teach me the Heidelberg Catechism. Sadly, his attempt was like giving something holy to a dog; it was like offering pearls to a pig. (Matthew 7:6) Growling, I resisted the Catechism’s warm summary of Christian teachings so fiercely that my wise father left me to wallow in my often anxious self-preoccupations. A few years later, Jesus’ words broke into my hard heart, and the Catechism became for me a holy pearl of great value. (Matthew 13:46)
Memories of Jesus’ words and the Catechism came to me this morning when, feeling stressed in my study, I listened to Jesus speaking to Martha amid that dear sister’s anxious troubles. When Martha complained about her own over-work, while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet; our Lord said:
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful.
Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42)
Jesus’ words brought the Catechism to my mind because I have long treasured the Catechism’s interpretation of the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day.” After describing Sunday as a “festive day of rest,” the Catechism goes on to teach that every day of my life
I rest from my evil ways,
Let the Lord work in me through his Spirit
And so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath (Lord’s Day 38)
On too many days of my life, I have not rested from my evil ways. But every time I have practiced what the Catechism teaches, the Lord has worked in me through his Spirit. When I rest from my self-absorbed ways by taking a walk or resting in God in some other simple way, I have received the re-creating joy of the eternal Sabbath. Not once has my rest led the world to fall apart. Instead, my rest opens time and space for God’s work.
What would happen if you took a few minutes today to sit at Jesus’ feet? What would happen if you took five minutes or a half hour to rest from your anxious troubles in order to meditate on Jesus’ words, “one thing is needful”? Perhaps you will receive the Sabbath joy God felt, “when the morning stars sang together, and all the angels shouted for joy.” (Job 38:7) Peace,