Blue Laws have been part of this country's history since our Colonial period and were in place to ensure that the Sabbath day was kept holy. These laws took particular aim at personal behaviors such as gambling or alcohol consumption; behaviors which were viewed as moral offenses.
When I was growing up in Florida, there were still many "Blue Laws" in place. And, in fact, there are still Blue Laws in effect today. Many states still regulate a retailer's ability to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday. Other states still prohibit the sale of automobiles on Sunday while still others prohibit things such as horse racing. Many states had laws prohibiting department stores from opening on Sunday. Try to imagine, if you can, not being able to make a trip to the mall on Sunday! Of course, these laws were based on Christianity so if you were Jewish or believed the Sabbath fell on a day other than Sunday, the laws were not of much benefit religiously. They instead were helpful in making a day of rest more attainable for the people.
I must confess there are moments when I might long for a new "Blue Law" or two. You know, things like, "No team sports until after 1 p.m. on Sunday." "No excuses for missing worship service on Sunday." "Each family must make studying scripture a priority." Of course, this is ridiculous and entirely misses the point.
Our Gospel for this Sunday comes from Luke 13:10-17 and in it we see Jesus step outside accepted Sabbath behavior. The customary and accepted practice was to keep the Sabbath as a day of rest and there were many rules formulated around this expectation. Travel outside your town was prohibited, work of any kind wasn't to be performed. Sounds suspiciously similar to some of our Blue Laws.
This week, we find Jesus teaching in a synagogue, when he sees a woman bent over with an infirmity. He then calls her over and tells her, "Woman, you are rid of your infirmity." You can just imagine the reaction of the synagogue official. It was something along the lines of, "Who do you think you are healing a woman on the Sabbath?!" For Jesus, it wasn't at all about the "rules." Instead, it was all about grace, compassion, forgiveness; it was all about God "seeing" us and meeting us in our need.
Please come join us as we kick off Sunday School and as together we listen for the Holy Spirit to guide us.
In His Mercy and Grace,