But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?’” vs. 15Luke 13:14-17
The Jews had spent centuries discussing the sabbath and had rigidly defined the activities that could be done. Leading your donkey to water was permitted; healing was not. Jesus knew the rules, but it didn’t stop him from healing the woman who had been crippled for 18 years. And when the leader of the synagogue chastised him, Jesus was quick with a heated reply. In the peaceable kingdom that he was establishing, compassion always trumped rules. Church leaders sometimes have a hard time with this sort of thing–part of their job through the years has been rule-making, and some have gotten rather good at it. We’ve gotten a taste of this in our congregations during these COVID years. When the pandemic first hit, everyone from the top down rightly realized that we needed to figure out ways to prevent the spread. Debates were held about what constituted essential services, and what businesses needed to close. Rules were established for mask wearing and social distancing. It didn’t take long for hypocrisies to emerge–some people loved the rules and rigidly followed them. Others hated them. These years have been a massive test for churches–and in some congregations, compassion ended up being trumped by the rules. It’s been a frightful challenge!
Thought for the Day: How did my congregation show compassion during COVID?