"We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God's Word, but instead keep that Word holy and gladly hear and learn it." --Martin Luther
It was hard to reconcile Luther's words on the Third Commandment with what I had learned. I must admit that I have spent much more of my theology study time with Walter Brueggemann than with Luther. Brueggemann says that church people expel too much energy about what Sabbath means for the life of the Church and what the church is doing. That is not what Sabbath is about at all. Sabbath is means simply this, "stop working."
Luther is not afraid to interpret, so I don't fault him for making a statement about preaching and listening/reading God's Word (on the Sabbath or other times). However, I'm not persuaded by Luther's statement connecting Sabbath and God's Word. I think he writes out of a Christendom perspective and raises Christendom to the level of a commandment. I would think that Luther's interpretation of the Third Commandment might go better with the First Commandment. I'm not sure.
"Stop working" is actually one of the harder commandments to follow for me, because I believe my work is so important to the family, the congregation, and the world, that the world might fall apart if I stop working. I think God's Word works in tandem with stop working, because if I actually stop working, then the Word of God bubbles up in my consciousness.
I'm sticking with Brueggemann that Sabbath is not about church, but work stoppage. But I do think that God's Word can work in tandem with Sabbath, though not its intent. How's that for sitting on the fence? I think Brueggemann would go so far as to say Luther is wrong. Egad, a Lutheran even entertaining that idea on the Commandments??? Call me a false teacher...
Reflect on the Sundays of your childhood.
Once my family actually started going to church when I was 9, it was definitely a discipline. I couldn't really get out of church. We attended, we sat in the front. We went to Sunday School or Confirmation. We stopped by the grocery store afterward, bought milk and a newspaper. Sometimes we would go to my Gram's house for dinner, and occasionally hop on a ferry to visit my Grandma on Whidbey Island. It was a day to visit with family. There were days I had soccer games or baseball games on Sundays, and I wore my uniform to church, but I was not going to miss a worship service. My parents were strict about that.