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Question
I read with great interest you comments on the UMC and Sunday/ Sabbath. I am however confused. If the Sabbath law (4th commandment) was done away with or fulfilled at the cross, what do we do with creation and the seventh day that God rested and he sanctified that day and made it holy? This was hundreds of years before there was even a Jew.  As I read Genesis I see Gid instituted the Sabbath and marriage , why do we have the right as the UMC to choose Sunday because the Catholic Church says it is the Lords day

Answer
Debra,

I'm sorry if my responses have left you confused.  You are correct that the Sabbath Law (the 4th Commandment) was preceded by the establishment of the Sabbath rest within the creation itself, when/where God rested on "the Sabbath Day."  However, keep in mind that when its observance was assumed into the Mosaic convent, HOW it is to be observed was codified into the Law.  The details regarding what constitutes proper "observance" of the Sabbath Day -- i.e., what constitutes "rest" -- were established in the Law, and it was that which Jesus "did away with" in declaring himself "Lord of the Sabbath." The rules and regulations that determine how one "rests" on the sabbath day, and what one can or cannot do, have been replaced by Grace.  No longer is it a matter of law, it is now a matter of faith as empowered by God's unmerited love and favor.

Keep in mind that Jesus' initial statement on being "The Lord of the Sabbath," as recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28, and Luke 6:1-5), affirms that the Sabbath it was created for us and not us for it. This basic affirmation goes behind the Law's codification of the sabbath to the initial creation of it. God rested on the Sabbath day NOT for Godself, but for us to learn the importance of taking a sabbath rest. The instant we try to make it a "must do" and "according to a certain method," are are projecting it back into Law.

As for worshipping on the "Lord's Day" (which isn't the Sabbath but, rather, the weekly commemoration of the Resurrection) ... I'll re-post something I once wrote in response to a similar question.:

The New Testament Church joined with the Jews at the Synagogues in worship on the Sabbath day.  Then, on the first day of the week, they would gather together in their homes -- in their "house churches" -- for worship and the Eucharist as they celebrate the weekly Remembrance of his Death and Resurrection.

As for why the United Methodist Church continues to worship on the weekly day for commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus -- well, firstly, it is precisely because Sunday, the First Day of the Week, IS the weekly celebration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus!  Secondly, the UMC traces its theological and traditional roots back to the Roman Catholic Church through the Anglican Church: just because it is said that the Roman Catholic Church began something that doesn't mean that we feel we need to stop doing that something.  And, thirdly, United Methodists don't understand Sunday -- the weekly celebration of the Resurrection -- to be the "Sabbath Day."  The Sabbath day is, has been, and always will be Saturday, the last or seventh day of the week.  We don't even consider Sunday a "Christian Sabbath," although some people erroneously make that identification.  We simply are not legalistic regarding the observance of the Sabbath Day, nor do we see any value in trying and move worship from the weekly celebration of the Resurrection to the Sabbath Day.

I hope this helps.

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Rev. Gregory S. Neal

Expertise

I can answer questions dealing with all issues of United Methodist Doctrine and Wesleyan-Arminian Theology. In particular I can answer questions dealing with the Sacraments and other liturgical and worship-oriented questions. I can also answer questions dealing with the form, structure, and organization of the United Methodist Church and our relationship with other denominations.

Experience

I am an ordained United Methodist Elder with more than 20 years of ministerial service experience in the local Church.

Organizations
I am a Clergy Member in Full Connection and have been a member of the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1991. I am a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. I am also a member of the Emmaus Community, and am currently serving as Senior Spiritual Director for the Dallas Emmaus Community. I am a member of the Order of Saint Luke in the United Methodist Church.

Publications
I have my own website: www.RevNeal.org.   I have written two books, "Grace Upon Grace" and "Seeking the Shepherd's Arms," both available at Amazon.com and in bookstores.

Education/Credentials
I have a BA in Religious Studies, History and Russian. I have an M.Div in Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies and a Ph.D in Sacramental Theology and New Testament.

Awards and Honors
Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church
Fellow of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

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