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A Sabbath sabbatical
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I must really be on a burning path to hell.

Going to Hell in a handbasket.

Driving like hell with the devil as my co-pilot.

“Don’t even think about looking toward heaven, sister, cause the Debbil is callin’ yo’ name!”


Once again, my earnest 80-year-old pal Mia is thumpin’ her Bible at me and shakin’ the rafters with her born-again Christian hellfire and brimstone.

I ain’t knockin’ her or any other “born again” Christians, don’t get me wrong.

My problem with her is that she has been to five different churches in the last year, because she didn’t like what the preachers were preaching.

I asked her, “Aren’t they preaching from the Bible?”

“Well ... yes,” she admitted.

“So, what’s the problem? I don’t go to church, and you get your drawers on fire about it, but you don’t hear me giving you any guff ’cause you hop churches like it’s a social event.”

“I just think you’re wrong not to go to church. The Bible says you should go to church!” she admonishes, stamping her foot.

“Show me where it says that, and I’ll debate you on it,” I challenge her.

“Right here, in the 10 Commandments. Honor the Sabbath.”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t say ‘get thee to a temple’ or ‘I’ll strike thee dead as doornail if thou doesn’t go to church’ does it?”

She quickly flipped through her well-indexed Holy Book and said, “Give me a minute ... I’ll find it.”

She huffs impatiently at me as I examine the nice job I did of polishing my nails. Positively Pink, the flavor of the day.

“You should remember Paul, Ellen. When he was in prison...”

“When he was in prison, Mia, he didn’t have a Bible. He prayed to God with all his heart and soul. Did he ever go to church? Did Jesus ever go to church? I know he spent some time in and out of temples, but did Jesus ever drag anybody by the nape of the robe and haul them into a church? No. They didn’t have churches till after Christ died. People met in different places. The Bible says Paul had the scriptures, but did he need them? No.  But they were his connection to the Lord.”

“Oh no! People were going to church back then, yes, they were — they were always praying and worshiping.”

I had to laugh.

What is it that these born again folks are taught that I’m missing out on?

If you weren’t Jewish back in the old days, you were worshiping anything other than a man or one God.

You were worshipping golden idols. False gods. Or you didn’t worship anything, and that was a greater sin than not going to temple on the Sabbath.  

“Mia, don’t you know what Colossians 2:16-17 says? ‘Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.’ Now, why is it so impossible for you to believe that I worship God when I’m out in the yard looking at all my beautiful trees. Why is it impossible for you to believe that I worship God when I am doing the dishes? Yes, the Bible does say you should worship as a body of people who believe, but it’s not a law.”

“I can’t believe you don’t follow the words of Jesus,” she said.

“What? Don’t follow the words of Jesus? Are you high? Do you think that because I don’t go to church that I don’t follow the words of Jesus?

What kind of Christian are you, anyway? Do you think every person on earth has to be a Christian to gain entry into heaven?”
Apparently she does.

“What if I was a Buddhist?” I ask her, with arms folded.

“Well, you aren’t. And I probably wouldn’t talk to you if you were.”

“So your all-encompassing compassionate love that Jesus invoked would just go right out the window ’cause I was a Buddhist, right?”

“Yes, probably.”

“Mia. That is not what Jesus had in mind for you. Aren’t we all brothers and sisters, no matter what? Even though we might not like everyone we come across, don’t you think Jesus would have been just as loving toward Buddha as he would have been to Mohammed or to anyone who was trying to teach their followers ‘enlightenment’? Do you really feel ‘Christian’ when you chide someone for not going to church? Can’t you just ‘feel the love’ that I believe in God and that I follow the words of Jesus?”

“No. I don’t. It upsets me that you aren’t going to make it. When the end of the world comes, you aren’t going to be with us.”

“You’re probably right, Mia. I will be right down here, tending to my garden. It will be my hell to not be able to spend eternity with you good Christians.”

“You know you’re gonna fry, right?”

“Only if the debbil catches me....”