Shabbat, and Shalom
As a family, (My husband Thilo, my mom and myself), we have been celebrating Shabbat every week. We have been “sometimes” Shabbat practicers for several years but since our last trip to Israel, we have devoted ourselves to being regular partakers in this joyous celebration.
Let’s face it, Yahweh likes a good Party! He actually built celebrations, feasts, and holidays into his LAW… so so so many of them. The parties just keep coming and coming, on the Jewish calendar. This is a wonderful aspect of our Lord’s character which I think is often over looked. Or, it is easily made into a rule instead of a privilege. (This is true of all of God’s laws and regulations…. we easily turn them into punishment or drudgery, instead of privilege.)
Of course, we are to honor the Sabbath. It is not easy. The modern, western Christian culture, in my opinion, actually has no idea what “honor the Sabbath” means or what it looks like, except of course, Sunday morning, oh boy, you’d better be in church. If your church is on Saturday evening? Or Wednesday? What does honoring the Sabbath even mean?
We know that the religious leaders in Jeshua’s felt that He was terrible at honoring the Sabbath. He didn’t honor it as they saw fit, leading to His famous and genius quote, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
I am not sure if I have written on this before, but the first time I was able to fully grasp what he meant by this, was in Morocco on my honeymoon. My hubby and I went to the Souq, a crazy, covered market, selling EVERYTHING, in gorgeous colors, loud pushy vendors, and wonderful smells. It was all that one could hope for as a tourist in an Arabic country. We would have been eaten alive by the sells people and most likely only put 5 tentative steps into the market, if a sweet little man hadn’t agreed to show us around, free of charge. He was good to his word and very helpful, not forcing us to pay out at the end. (Of course, we were glad to tip such a one!) It was this man who inadvertently helped me to understand what Jeshua meant.
He took us to a stall, where a man was selling all kinds of wonderful spices and smells. He was selling big chunks of amber, that is the only thing I remember specifically, because I bought some. He explained that they use it as a room-freshener. The ladies rub it on the light-bulbs and it makes the whole room smell lovely. They also use it as perfume.
“We cannot use any other perfume or air-freshener because it has alcohol in it and alcohol is forbidden to Muslims,” the vendor explained.
Our tour guide (also a Muslim) said, “That is ridiculous! We are not supposed to DRINK alcohol! To avoid drunkenness and addiction. Some people don’t understand the purpose of the law.”
I had my first dawning of understanding, the law is for the people, the people are not for the law. It all of a sudden went click in my head. This is what Jeshua meant about the Shabbat and what a privilege it is from God. Especially for slaves and minimum wage workers. It is God’s loving check in the system to prevent people from being exploited.
(And, if society would only build God’s laws into the system, workers who ARE being exploited all around the world would have a much better life… Heck, we don’t even need laws. Just businesses who choose to practice as God would have it. This is another topic, for another blog!)
And so… we have the joy of Shabbat.
We do the whole ceremony, we light the candles, we say the prayers, drink the wine, uncover the bread, bless each other and then PARTAKE in the feast. It is a so much fun and so far, it hasn’t gotten old. We do look forward to it every week.
Here are some of the highlights:
- When we light the candles, hopefully at sunset (but I can tell you we are not very good at being accurate about it…) we know that our Jewish family within a few times zones, is doing the same thing at nearly the same time, praying for the Light of the World… We know who He is. It is the perfect time to bless Sons of Abraham, into whose tree we have been grafted, and from whose line our salvation as come.
- The traditional Jewish prayers are beautiful and inspire the right kind of awe and fear of the Lord, God of all creation. It is very easy to go a step farther and remember the blood and broken body, Jesus revealed in His right time (the bread covered and uncovered). There is something beautiful and Holy about having this weekly reminder, at home, with the intimacy of family.
- Blessing each other, purposely and regularly, has been a great thing for our team. This is different than just praying for each other, we do that all the time. This is specifically speaking out blessings. It is so great! It is a weekly reminder that we love each other. It is joining into the blessings of Abba, for each other, releasing it verbally. We heard a testimony from a family who does this with small children and they also specifically take the time to hear if the children have been hurt during the week, or have things they need to talk about. They testified how beautiful it is to specifically set aside time for that kind of communication, while celebrating Jeshua, God of the Universe, and blessing their little ones. Imagine the difference it must make in a child’s life to have this special time with mom and dad every single week.
- Eating the wonderful feast and knowing we wont be working at all the next day is just plain old great! I think we all look forward to it all week! It is a weekly reminder of a part of God’s personality and character, the part that loves feasts and celebrations, so often and easily over looked!
As the Body of Christ, we have strayed so so so far from our roots. We may not be Jewish, by blood, but the New Testament is clear that we are grafted into that tree AND that Yahweh, has NOT changed, nor will He ever change. His personality is the same, Jeshua’s ethnicity is both of heaven and of the Jew. The first church did not abandon their Jewishness, their synagogue, and when they converted new believers, they certainly initiated them into practices we would now say are strictly “Jewish”. Did they celebrate Shabbat? I am sure they did. Did they force the new converts to be circumcised and adhere to dietary restrictions, we know that they did not. It is all about finding the privilege and personality of our Lord and living in a way that is pleasing to Him. I can assure you, that taking up this wonderful tradition is both spiritually nurturing, a joy and pleasing to our Father who instituted it. So why not?
After I wrote this, my mother pointed out an aspect of Shabbat that I had missed. She was reading Hebrews and was struck by The Rest that we find in Christ. We have entered into an eternal Rest, when we received Him. In commanding His people to celebrate the Shabbat, experience joy of rest, the peace of rest, He was giving them a fore-taste of the rest that he planned for us to enter when the Messiah came.
Now the Messiah has come! We have entered in. When we celebrate the Shabbat, we can look forward to our eternal rest in heaven! We can celebrate the eternal peace that is to come. There is so much depth, mysticism and… vastness… in our God, in His plans. I have no doubt that there is even MORE depth in His purpose for Shabbat, than I can perceive. I hope, that by celebrating it, even greater revelation will come, of the character of my Lord and His wonderful, eternal plan, for existence.
Here are some links about the Shabbat, written by people far more knowledgeable than myself, with some more specific ideas about enjoying this God given ritual. One of the articles here is called, “Shabbat at home, just try it!” I agree. Please do, give it a go.
A very extensive and detailed Shabat guide – from Hebrew4Christians
Hebrew4Christian -Shabbat – an after note to the guide abover, shorter and very insightful, if you just want more food for thought on the topic.
A simple Guide for Christians – A step-by-step, in .pdf form.
Another wordpress blog about Shabbat – Also with some thoughts on the subject and a step-by-step guide, with some personal experience from the writer added in, very human.