Our son’s girlfriend Becky often shares with us her Shabbat stories that she tells at work. When she shares what she has done over the weekend she often gets asked -almost all the time-this one question: “What did you do this weekend?” Her response: “We had Shabbat.” “Oh, are you Jewish?” Her answer is great: “No, I am a United Methodist, but we celebrate Shabbat…” It gets crazy from this point on. Confusion usually ensues.
It’s always a conversation starter for us around the table at our Shabbat dinner. Our family has been observing Shabbat for over 8 months. For those who may not know, Shabbat is the centerpiece of the Jewish life and is the most important observance in Judaism.
Our own Shabbat tradition was born out of a need to have our kids over for a family meal. Friday’s seemed to work well for most of us. I was very interested in Shabbat after reading a book about another Christian family that observed Shabbat. I wanted something different and meaningful for our Friday evenings. What’s happened since then has been life changing.
My husband is a pastor. He’s been preaching and teaching God’s word for over 20 years. Sundays are his busiest day of the week. For many Christians, Sunday is a day of rest. It has never felt that way to our family.
After many years of trying different ways to celebrate and observe the Sabbath, we had discovered it extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. We started off with great intentions trying to create a Sabbath rest, picking different days of the week to try and observe a time of ceasing. One year we decided to pick a day to rest, including some hiking to reconnect with nature. It did not last long. We tried reading on the day of rest and that lasted less time. We tried napping after Sunday lunch, but when you have kids or pastoral visits that need to be done, well rest went by the wayside. We tried Friday night cooking and that was great for a long time but we ended up often in front of the TV to watch a movie- fun- but that left us wanting more. Fast forward (20 years) and I think we finally found or perhaps rediscovered something deeply rich and restful – the Jewish Shabbat.
Every once in a while the question pops up from someone in the family- “are we having Shabbat tonight?” to which I respond “do we go to worship on Sunday?” I had a lot to learn about Shabbat and how to observe it. I ordered books; I read stories from Exodus; I researched challah recipes; I learned how to put on a Purim play (story about Esther); I learned Passover passages which proved to be rather intense (we had Easter around the same time). It has been and continues to be an education for us and others that have observed this day with us.
Here’s my takeaway – Rest is good, Shabbat is good, and we are commanded to pause, and to rest and light lights of Shabbat. There is definitely more to Shabbat than what I have shared here (more to come later) but for now, for this Christian family- we are thankful for such a tradition of peace and blessing.
By the way, we still celebrate the traditional Sunday Dinner- last week we had a banging good ol’ fashioned Southern meal after Sunday worship!! Peace all-Shabbat Shalom. What to do and how to begin your Shabbat click this link-Candle Lighting Here’s the rest of the Becky conversation: “…and you are invited to come anytime.”