healings on the sabbath and attendance on sundays

I remember several years ago discussing the idea of incarnational ministry with a group of students.  We were talking about how a church might better serve and share God’s love with a large group of Mexicans who played soccer nearby every Sunday.  Entire families were making a day out of their soccer league play; there were children running around, women sitting and talking on blankets, and picnic lunches everywhere.  An entire community was coming together each and every Sunday.  After a dozen or so conventional ideas about inviting them to our “worship services” by posting signs or cooking a meal for them, we determined that all of these ideas would force these good folks to leave their group in order to become a part of ours.  One individual suggested we play soccer with them.  But someone else interjected that we could not ourselves miss “church” in order to do so.

Allow me to take a few (or many) liberties with Luke 14:1-6:

One Sunday, when Jesus was on his way to worship in a large church building with a well-known and respected community of believers, he was being carefully watched.  On the way he happened upon a group of Mexicans playing soccer.  Jesus asked the pastor and Sunday School teachers, “Am I allowed to be late to church — or even miss it altogether — to bring healing to this group of people?”  But the religious leaders remained silent while checking their watches, cell phones, and day planners.  So Jesus put on his cleats and kicked the ball around for a bit, as he shared the good news of the kingdom with his fellow footballers.

Then Jesus asked the preachers and pastors, “If one of you has a son in jail* or a friend who is sick on a Sunday at 10:00 am, will you not go pay his bail or take her to the hospital?”  And they had nothing to say.

Just some thoughts.  Yours?

* I know, I know… a pastor’s son would never go to jail — other than to witness to the criminals who are present there.


Filed under modern-day retelling, sunday gatherings

13 responses to “healings on the sabbath and attendance on sundays

  1. it is my understanding that Jesus said, “Go” not “Come” (except “come to me all you who labor…”) Aahh you get my drift. Welcome back Brett. I was driving home from Ohio yesterday when I thought about you and how I hadn’t read anything from you in a short while. Then when I get home I look at my Google Reader and who should appear but 8 tiny…oops wrong one. You! Glad you are ok as well as the family. Am i wrong in thinking Christie is expecting another baby? Hope she is well also.

  2. There’s truth in both perspectives. We DO need to have worship services with other Christians, but we also need to BE the body of Christ, not just talk about it. I think the church needs to do both things. I would say that the church should stop and play soccer with the guys, and then have a worship service afterward, maybe at the soccer field.

    • good thoughts, bernard. i was worried everyone would read what i’ve written here as “church attendance” not being important. but i don’t mean that any more than Jesus meant that sabbath isn’t important…

      i like the idea of soccer and worship going together.

  3. Kim

    Good points Brett. I think we miss out on a lot of opportunities to share God’s love when we lock ourselves in too tight of a box.

    In my view, God would rather have us out trying to bring home His lost ones than just hanging with those already found any day – and twice on Sundays 🙂 (sorry couldn’t help myself).

    • being in a tight box does take away some opportunities, but i’m afraid most of mine are missed simply because…

      1) i’m in too big of a hurry / have too many things to do.
      2) just feel awkward beginning a spiritual conversation.

      i wish it were only the “i’m always in a church building” thing.

  4. I’ve been a part of a lot of conversations recently on this topic. Church is people, not a building or a sermon you have to listen to every week. Jesus wanted us to bring His love to all of the nations, and sometimes that means making a trip outside of the four walls of our churches and stepping outside of our comfort zones. Any opportunity to serve Him is never a wasted one.


  5. Who says church A) has to be on Sunday morning, B) that it’s in a building, and C) well I don’t have a third point, but I thought I was on a roll.

    One thing I am pretty certain of is this: most churches south of the border (well everywhere I went) met on Sunday nights, not Sunday morning. That’s probably why they are there playing soccer at that hour. They are probably wondering how to reach your community. ¿Quién sabe?

    The idea of reaching the community doesn’t have to be that hard. Be a friend- make a friend- minister to someone’s needs-share your faith in the process. Next.

    We used to have seeker services on Sunday morning because we did outreach on Saturday (servant evangelism) and had lots of new folks. I hated going because I had to get saved every Sunday; I was bored. We also had a service Saturday night – the deep teaching kind as well as home-groups during the week. The Saturday night service died… finally the pastor decided that home-group counted as “church” until they discovered that the offerings were down… I suggested Paypal. It didn’t go over too well.

    The idea of Sunday morning service really made a mess of things. I was kind of glad about it.

    I want to say, don’t go to church, be the church… but the corporate gathering can be energizing for a lot of folks. And finally, I have a friend that does church on Tuesday nights – everyone there is mega serious about church and Jesus.

    Thanks for an engaging blog.

  6. oddly enough I picture the early church’s gatherings were far more like the Mexican group than the large formal congregational church services…

  7. Mark 2:23-28 pretty much answers the question. When people accused Jesus’s disciples of breaking the sabbath, He told them that the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.

    So I don’t think we would have to worry about putting on our cleats and joining them.

    BTW, our pastor’s son didn’t go to jail, but he did get arrested for shooting a laundromat window with a bb gun. 😀

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