Friday, April 11, 2008

Seasons and Sabbaths 1

I'm about 1/2 way through Louv's book. I've been trying to write this for a number of weeks but it still seems disjointed. Not sure know why it's so hard. Probably too many threads tangled up together so proceed at your own risk.

I was thinking about seasons. I was thinking that we take seasons for granted except when we hit the extremes and they seriously impede our lifestyles. The liturgical year is an important part of many faith communities. It presents the opportunity to ponder the life of Christ all year long as a community. Knowing and anticipating seasons was an important part of life in Bible times and in any agrarian society. Back in the days before electricity when most work was hard manual labor people had to rest when the sun went down and light disappeared. They had shorter days and different work to do in the winter. There were jobs they couldn't do in a rainy season and the merchants probably didn't travel. Fishermen came and went in season. My kids learned about seasons in kindergarten. But I'm wondering. Will we have the same sense of season that's expressed in the scriptures if our lives aren't affected by them in the same way?

I looked up the word "season" in Merriam-Webster online . Just for the record, it turns out agricultural season isn't the first definition anymore. Change of season as it relates to the weather outdoors isn't a first definition either.

I looked up the word "season" at Bible Gateway. A really interesting word study. The writers of scripture used imagery from the outdoors, from a life not only dependent on the God who created the outdoors but dependent on the outdoors He made with all its sensory and experiential imagery. God uses it to teach us. The scriptures tell of dry seasons and rainy seasons in the Middle East. Job mentions snow and thaw. Ecclesiastes 3 is a whole chapter about seasons. Here in Upstate NY we still have four distinct seasons. But seasons are becoming harder and harder to distinguish even from an environmental perspective.

Here's a really interesting "season" passage from scripture. The seasons of plowing, planting, and harvest are busy and critical seasons in the world of agriculture. Successful plowing and planting largely determine the success of your harvest. Bringing in the harvest when it's ready before rain destroys it was also imperative. If you get a week of rain (bad plowing/harvest weather) but the Sabbath is sunny (good plowing/harvest weather) yet God says, "Rest! Even during plowing and harvest!" what do you do? Your cow needs help calving on the Sabbath. There's a life at stake. It's work you have to do. These are critical times and seasons. This is your food. Food for your livestock - livestock to help you work or provide food for your own family and others. Your life literally depends on the seasons and your timing - getting your crops in on time and harvesting them at their peak, being there when an animal has a hard time delivering young. Jesus also told people that if an animal falls into a pit on the Sabbath, of course you pull it out - Sabbath or no Sabbath. So when was it ok to work on the Sabbath? Or did keeping the Sabbath diligently make the exceptions more special - more legitimate.

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