In the Gospel According to Luke we hear of a woman bent over, barely able to walk, for many years. Not being able to handle it any longer, she approached our Lord. “He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13.13) On the surface, this sounds like a good thing, right? There were some, however, who were angry that Jesus healed her. They were angry because all this took place on the Sabbath day. How could it be that some, who claimed to believe in God, actually be upset that He would dare to heal someone who had been sick for many years?
Truly many did not understand God’s commandments layed out in the Old Testament, nor do they understand those found in the New Testament. Many today think God’s laws are about trying to figure out “who wins” vs “who loses” in the all-crucial game of “who gets to heaven?” Those who keep the rules win, while those who break the rules end up losing their ticket. They were willing to condemn the woman to a life of torment and pain, just because she broke the rules.
We all know, or at least we all hope, that if getting into heaven was about keeping all the rules, then nobody would be winners. As Saint Paul reminds us, “All have fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23) Jesus Christ was making this point when He asked, “"Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? (Luke 13.15) Even though it was “work” to take care of animals, it wasn’t considered breaking the law if you did that sort of work on the Sabbath.
One great thing about being Orthodox is that life isn’t about keeping the rules, but allowing the rules to shape our lives. In Orthodoxy, following the rules is about understanding the relationships God desires to have with us. This was where the people of the Old Testament didn’t understand about God. The Sabbath rules weren’t about work as much as they were about setting time aside to find God.
In the same way, the Holy Apostles set aside every Sunday as the time we should be in Church. We will be totally missing the point if we think the rule is about being in Church. It is about the relationship God desires to have with us. He wants us to be in Communion with Him, and this can only be done in Church. Sunday or not, there is never a wrong time to find God.