Examples of God’s Hospitality in the Bible – How Food Reveals God’s Heart

Examples of God’s Hospitality in the Bible – How Food Reveals God’s Heart

Today we are going to see a few examples of God’s hospitality in the Bible and be inspired by the King himself. But first, I want you to imagine yourself in a small village in Germany. It’s a cold evening and you drive up the driveway to an old foreign castle. As the car parks, you can see glimmers of light dancing in some of the lower windows.
 
You exit your vehicle and remove your luggage from the trunk and think to yourself, “So this will be my new home?”
 
As you continue towards the old doors, you wonder who is in there? What are the people like? What do these next months have in store for you? There is an uneasy feeling in your stomach because of all the unknowns.
 
Reaching the ornate front doors, you push the ancient iron knob to open and cross the threshold. The moment you set foot within the entrance delicious fragrances of roast poultry, steaming hot vegetables and fresh bread greet and envelope you.  Immediately, your mouth begins to water.
 
You keep walking through a great big doorway into a giant dining area full of candles and long tables. All the people you were wondering about are clustered in different little groups around the room and around the table. Many of them there for the first time, and equally nervous as yourself.
 
The host stands and greets everyone and invites you all to sit. Multiple people are seen dashing in and out of the kitchen, until finally large platters of chicken and duck, vegetables, bread and various salads are brought in and set on the table before you. The tables are decorated with wild flowers, beautifully folded napkins, candles and small golden crowns. Your senses are overwhelmed, but you feel generally very welcome, excited and hungry.
 
 
How would you feel if you were welcomed as a guest of honour to this meal?
I venture to say that if you’re anything like me, you would probably have loved to be there.
 
 

Inspired by the King

Years ago, my husband and I headed up the team who organized this dinner as a “Feast for Sons and Daughters of the King”.
 
Our whole concept and idea was that each person arriving, was the son or daughter of the King of Kings, and what better way to welcome and greet them by an abundant, royal feast? The people arriving were students of the DTS (Discipleship Training School) we were staffing with Youth with a Mission.
 
 
 
There was a lot of work involved and money spent in preparing this one meal, but it was well worth it and that experience is burned into my memory. As I was preparing all the food, I really felt the heart of God for each one of the new students who were to arrive.
God was excited. He was so happy that they would just come and be with him. He was delighted that they stopped whatever they were doing in the lives at that moment, to be intentional about their relationship with him. Each of these students of all different ages and ethnicity had decided to commit to six months of focused time on God. And God honours that.
 
 
Why did we decide to create an opulent feast you may ask? Why all the effort, time, and money? Perhaps we could have better spent that money.
 
 
Well we were convinced God loves to party and here’s why:
 
 

1. We know that we are all sons and daughters of the King and he wants good for us.

 

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
In fact, even if we are the worst children ever. He rejoices so much when one of his children returns to him that he throws a party.
We see this all over Luke 15 with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, The Parable of the Lost Coin, and The Parable of the Lost Sheep.

2. God uses food as a tasty teaching technique.

If you’re not convinced that God loves partying in the three above stories, you should check out how much celebrating happened in the Old Testament.
Did you know that God commanded people to celebrate these SEVEN feasts? It’s almost as if he is adamant that people just take a break from their year to celebrate that God has it covered and always will have it covered! 
That’s seven feasts a year that God created for his people to meet and celebrate with him, to learn about him and experience him.
 
 

In the NT we see that Jesus often uses food as a means to teach. One example is the initiation of the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:26-28

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of thecovenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

 

3. Feeding people shows love. It is an action louder than words.

Food gives opportunity to rest,  reflect, and restrengthen. Even Jesus provided the great practical need of food for thousands of people. I wonder if his teachings were digested better on a full and content stomach?   This verse in Psalm 36: 5-9 reminds us of how God shows love and goodness to his people (and animals) by providing for them. I love the imagery used in this verse of God the refuge who gives us the feast of his abundance and our complete satisfaction and delight.

 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
 They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

4. Feasting is a prophetic picture of the future

Again and again in the Old Testament we get glimpses into what God has prepared for his people in the future. And I’ll let you know now it doesn’t have anything to do with us floating on clouds and playing harps.

 We will be enjoying the best dang food and wine ever that will be literally served by God himself.

Isaiah 25:6

The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.

Luke 14:15

When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Revelation 19:7-9

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb ‘” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”

 

So going back to the beginning of our castle feast story, our team was convinced that one of the best ways to welcome and communicate the gospel to our new students was spoiling them with an amazing feast. It’s likely that the newly arrived students in our story didn’t understand all of the intricacies and thoughts that were invested in preparing that meal. But they surely felt loved. Whether they realized it or not, our “King’s Feast” was a preparation, or a prophetic rehearsal of what is to come.

Have you ever had a great feast? What was it like? 
What are ways you can include more celebration and feasting into your year?
Stuck on ideas? Try the Shabbat!

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Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

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Celebrating the Biblical Feasts | Remember

Celebrating the Biblical Feasts | Remember


Have you ever been interested in the Biblical Feasts? Here is part one of a brief introduction to God’s feasts and how God uses them.

As a teenager, I did a week long internship at the Vancouver Opera. It was a fantastic experience, especially since at the time I was an aspiring to be an opera singer.

One part of the practicum was that I got to observe a rehearsal of La Traviata at an old church in the city. There were no flourishes, or costumes. Just a piano, the actors, and their movements. It was very simple. But even without the perfection of the real stage, the costumes, the makeup, or the orchestra, I was almost in tears in the end. The voices and acting alone were so powerful that I was drawn right in to the story.

I will never forget the beautiful sounds, and the emotions the music conjured up.

God’s Plan to Remember

If you read my post on Why God Loves Food you’ll remember that I pointed out how I pointed out that God uses the tastes, smells and textures of food to remind us of him in ways that are deeper than words.

God knows our humanness better than we. So he set up a way for us to remember him throughout the generations. No, I’m not talking about the Bible here (though that is one way we remember who He is and what he has done..

He created festivals!
Sometimes they’re referred to as the Jewish Feasts, but I’m going to call them the Biblical Feasts here.

Just thinking about God creating feasts makes me all warm and fuzzy feeling. He could have just left us with some words hewn in rock:: dead and lifeless.

But no! He knows US.

He knows we love food, and flavour, and celebration, and relationship, so he made time for that.
The feasts are more than just excuses to have a good time though, there is multi-faceted intention behind them.

The feasts are there for us to remember, reenact what has happened, or what God has done and to rehearse what is to come.

Let’s get a very quick overview on the feasts.

 

Feasting to the Glory of God

Passover

You’re probably familiar with the Exodus story. The Jews were released from bondage (Exodus 12) and were commanded to keep The Passover in order to remember.
The Christian remembers that we were released from sin as Jesus, the sacrificial lamb died on the cross (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Exodus was a shadow of the greater redemption that came!

Day of First Fruits

This is a special feast celebrating the God’s gift of the early crops. 
Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of first fruits.
We celebrate that Jesus was the first fruit (1 Corinthians 15:20), and we wait for the next fruit – us finally in our resurrected bodies.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

It begins the next night after Passover. Leaven in the Bible typically means sin. God commanded the Jews to abstain from yeast and leaven during the feast. The matzo bread that is eaten is striped, like Jesus’ body (Isaiah 53).

Shavuot (Pentecost)

Exactly 50 days after first fruits there is the Feast of Harvest, which we refer to as Pentecost. After Jesus’ resurrection, he joined the disciples for 40 days and then he told them to wait until the Holy Spirit would come. And he did, exactly on the day of feasts. There was a great harvest of souls (3000) which correlates those lost in Exodus 32:28.

Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets)

Usually in September we the memorial of trumpets (Leviticus 23:24). The trumpet blowing was a reminder for the worker in the field to stop immediately, and come  for worship in the temple.
We read in the New Testament that the last trumpet sound that will raise the dead and rapture the living (1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement

On the Day of Atonement the High Priest of Israel entered the Holy of Holies to make a sacrifice on behalf of himself and Israel. (Leviticus 23:28-32)  It was a time for each person to confess his or her sins from the year.

We know our atonement is in Christ alone, by faith alone. This will be fulfilled when Christ returns again.

Sukkot (Tabernacles)

The Jews remember that God provided shelter for them while they were in the wilderness. They build little shelters outside their houses and live and worship in them for the time.
I have a friend who does this as a family, and I think it’s such a neat way to reenact and remember what God has done.
We know that God will establish his new temple in Jerusalem in the age to come. (Micah 4:1-7)

Shabbat

A very special and holy day that happens once a week. God lays a framework of rest and worship. Some understand the Shabbat as a rehearsal of the peace or shalom to come. One day a week where man, nature, and God are right with one another.
Every Shabbat I’m reminded that the rest and peace that I experience is just a shadow of what is to come. It reminds me to anticipate, and I long even more so for the Return of the King!

Biblical Feasts of Remembering

When you look at all those feasts, they’re pretty much spread right around the year. That means God set it up so that we literally can remember and celebrate him and all that he’s done all year long!

I think of it like Christmas on steroids.

Ok, that’s not a fantastic example.

But growing up in a Mennonite background, Christmas was pretty much the highlight and it only came once a year. How sad.

When I first came across the Shabbat I got totally excited. It was like Christmas every week! Read about that experience here.

God Loves to Party

After I realized there was a whole host of festivals I started to realize that God was pretty interested in us.
I absolutely thinks that he WANTS us to ENJOY him.

He wants us to BE with him.

Not just at Christmas!
Or Easter.

He designed a whole yearly and weekly rhythm for us to continually set our gaze above and remember him.  

It’s so easy to get stuck down in the muck and not remember and celebrate who God is and what he has done.

 

 

Have I just blown you away and you don’t even know where to begin with this all?
Sign up for our family’s Simple Christian Shabbat guide below to get started!

Try it out, and tell me how it went!

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Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

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Three Things to Know about Biblical Hospitality

Three Things to Know about Biblical Hospitality

Kingdom around the Table

Part 2
Three Things to Know about Biblical Hospitality

This week it is my great pleasure to hand over the proverbial reigns to my friend Amanda from Maple Alps who is going to give us a 101 on biblical hospitality.

Last week we talked about Why God Loves Food as an introduction to the Kingdom Around the Table Series. 
In this series we look into the Bible to see what role food and hospitality play in proclaiming and experiencing the Kingdom of God.

 

 

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Hospitality”?

I’m sure a few things may cross your thoughts like perfect Pinterest-worthy table settings and the latest mason jar craft. Maybe the South comes to mind with their famous Southern Hospitality, or finally getting to use that fancy wedding set you got years ago. I must admit: I thought the same. Since I was young, I would pour over home magazines, oohing and ahhing over all the pretty things that could house delicious meals (who am I kidding? I still do that from time to time). When I threw a party, I threw a party, going all out with decor and matching dishes and sometimes thematic scapes that would impress even Joanna Gaines (okay, maybe not that great, but you get the picture).

 

When the topic of Biblical Hospitality came  up, I had no idea what that was. I had taken one of those spiritual gifts test and had gotten hospitality as one and I did not know what that meant. I decided to dig a little deeper.

Here are just a few things I found in the Bible about hospitality (all verses are from the English Standard Version):

 

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hebrews 13:2

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

1 Peter 4:9

 

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Romans 12:13

“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Proverbs 31:20

“…and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts”

Acts 2:46

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”

Matthew 25:35

 

 

It is tempting to get discouraged in times like today when social media shows picture-perfect homes and tablescapes. It’s tempting to just give up and not even bother trying unless your party is Instagram-worthy.

 

With the Bible being so clear on the importance of each of us showing hospitality, I felt it important to not only practice it, but help others do so as well. Today, I want to share with you just three things to know about Biblical Hospitality. I hope it is practical for you and will encourage you as you move forward in blessing others!

1. It Is For Everyone and Yields Great Joy

We are to show hospitality to everyone we meet – not just our family and friends. Hospitality requires vulnerability and obedience. Some of the best and most memorable visits are messy and unexpected. Sometimes showing hospitality is even unwanted! I’ve had many a time, especially because I’ve devoted my life to ministry, where people have shown up at the door, or plans have been made very last minute. I’m quite type A and like to have things perfectly in order. When I’m tempted to turn people down or shrink away, I remember Christ’s example of embracing everyone. It is always a blessing when I choose to follow His way.

 

Although the practice of hospitality asks the sacrifice of our time, our needs and our resources, it is rewarded with great joy. There is not much that is more energizing and fulfilling than serving others. You just need to be willing!

2) Hospitality is Not the same as Entertaining

 

There is no mention of Pinterest or picture-perfect table spreads in any definitions of hospitality. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making things beautiful for our guests (and we absolutely should create pleasant and warm atmospheres for them), but is your motivation true hospitality, or just showing off?

 

Remember: entertaining is to impress, but hospitality is to bless.

 

The best hospitality I’ve experienced has been with those who encourage me and welcome me without even trying. I’ve left their company refreshed and ready to pass their love to others. Be sure that people leave your company refreshed and invigorated for good, and pray that they have experienced Christ through you.

3) Hospitality Is About More Than Sharing a Meal

 

Hospitality can be risky, and is asked of all of us (remember those verses above?). While some of us may find it easier to do than others, we are all called to show Christ’s love and hospitality – it can be (and should be!) a part of our lives.

 

Being aware of the needs of others is a huge way to show this. Pray with others. Encourage them. Listen to them! Yes, give them a meal if that is how you are ministering to them. Meeting needs in a practical way is truly hospitable – would we not want the same to be shown to us?

Hospitality is for us to show God’s love to others. God calls us to it, and the rewards are eternal. We have been blessed so we can bless others. Withholding hospitality will hinder our joy.

 

 

How do you show hospitality? What are some things you struggle with when doing so? Does it come easily to you?

 

 

 

Amanda Walter is a teacher, writer, wife to a pastor, and mom to a cat. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, sipping tea, and trying to keep succulents alive.

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Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

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Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table

Part 1
Why God Loves Food

 

 

I love food.

 

Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.

 

My response is always the same, “I don’t really like to cook, but I really like to eat!”

This is why I cook.

 

After I moved to Germany, I realized, to my dismay, that there was a significant lack of fast food restaurants. It was also considerably more expensive to eat out. The stores also didn’t have my go to meals – Campbell’s Soup, pasta sauce, frozen perogies and pre-shredded cheddar cheese, salad dressing in a bottle. What was this poor, young Canadian girl to do?

 

Since I was hungry for yummy food, I was forced to roll up my sleeves and learn to cook – the hard way: Trial and error.

 

I cringe at one of my first attempts at “Lemon Cream Chicken”.
How was I supposed to know that adding the lemon into the cream would cause the sauce to instantly curdle!?
Gag.
I’m feeling a wee bit sorry for my husband right now.

 

The good news is is that out of my cooking efforts, I developed skills and abilities I never had before. Thus, I can proudly say now: I can cook!

 

Today, I am very happy to spoil people at my table with my delicious food. If you find yourself passing through our neck of the woods, be welcome to come by for a meal at our table!

As my cooking skills grew, so did my confidence to feed people (besides my husband and myself). With that, I dove down deeper into the meaning of hospitality and God’s intention with meals.

I have concluded that indeed, God loves food. Let’s see a few reasons why.

 

Food, Not a Means to an End

 

It was only when I started really truly cooking that I began to realize that God actually had specific intentions for food.
It’s tempting to understand the body as simply a complex machine that runs on a continual balance of calories, fat, and vitamins.
Oh! I myself have indeed been guilty of just cramming in a mouthful of bagel nutrients in order to be on my way to do more important things.
But this was not God’s intention, and we can see this confirmed even in scientific research.

 

Slow Eating Benefits

Did you know that according to a study in the British Medical Journal slow eating can help us digest and absorb nutrients better, lose weight, reduce risk of food poisoning, and improve oral health?

Me neither. But when I did start eating slower, a phenomenal thing happened: I could taste butter for the first time!

Food and Mental Health

Did you know that food plays an important role regarding mental health?

The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

We can see here that food is not just the means to keep us going, but our partner for the physical and mental health we all desire. This is one reason why it is good to be mindful of what we consume.

 

The Power of a Meal

 

God, oddly enough, regards humans in a really trendy way – holistically.
It’s like he understood that each part of the human was somehow all intimately interconnected . That means that even food for him is no side subject. Just observing his creation firsthand we see that he designed it with colour, shape, texture, flavour, and smell. Why might that be?

 

What I find intriguing is how food can affect each one of us.

 

Smelling Memories

 

Last year, I watched a series on Netflix called Chef’s Table. What was so powerful was that the chefs shared how their journey with food began. Interestingly, it was almost always at home, in their grandmothers’ kitchen, or with another family member.
Have you ever smelled something and it instantly brought you back to a fond memory? This has happened to me many times. I wonder if it is the same with these chefs. Perhaps it was a time where they felt secure, or safe, or maybe it was a moment where they learned what love was like. I wonder if, in their artistry, they try to recreate those moments that so impacted them.

 

 

Remember History: The Passover Meal

 

 An example in the Bible of how God uses a meal to capture his peoples’ hearts and remind them of a memory is the Passover meal.

 

In that meal, the Jews remember that they were slaves, and that God freed them from the hardships of Egypt. Each part of the Passover meal has symbolic significance. For instance, there is salty water to taste and remember the tears of the slaves, the unleavened bread to remind them they had to leave so quick there was no time for bread to rise, and then lamb bone to remember the sacrificed lamb and the blood that protected them from the angel of death.

 

In fact, all through the Bible we catch glimpses of God’s heart for food and hospitality intertwined amidst his interaction with mankind and within his grand narrative.

Interested in reading more about the biblical feasts? Here is a quick overview.

 

God uses the tastes, smells and textures of food to remind us of him in ways that are deeper than words.

 

 

God loves Food – and Hospitality

 

Recently, our family was on the road traveling for a couple of weeks. Our first stop was at the OJC- The Reichenberg Fellowship, a community of Christians a couple hours away who work and live together. We have been intrigued with the idea of community, so we thought we would visit them with a few of our questions.

The first thing we encountered was a piece of paper laid out on our welcome table. It was a schedule of visits. Each day we would visit a different family from the community for meals, and cake throughout the week. I was astounded. We are by no means a small family! They each took time to cook for us, and spend time with us amidst their working week.

I felt so honoured.

Our youngest also celebrated his second birthday during that time. One of the families got word of it, and threw him a little birthday breakfast! Complete with some balloons and a small gift.

I felt so loved.

 Just for this reason, God loves food and hospitality. When we sit down together, we catch a glimpse of his heart.
It is a powerful way to honour and love one another.

 It is a time where we can share with one another our thoughts, ideas, problems, dreams.

Meals break down barriers. They put you at ease, and construct a platform for communication.

 

A Gateway to Relationship

 

I’m thankful now that I moved to Germany – the land that lacks fast food.
Perhaps if I were still in Canada, I would still be stuck wolfing down a can of Campbell’s soup in less than a minute without any further thoughts.

Through my being forced to cook God has shown me how having an open home, preparing a meal or a feast, can speak to people louder than words.

Food is a gateway to relationship, and as some good friends of mine like to say, “It’s all about relationship with God.”

 

 

 

Ready To Celebrate?

 

Try the Shabbat with this FREE guide

 

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

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Homeless for Christmas

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Thank God it’s Friday!

Thank God it’s Friday!

T G I F – Time to Shabbat

The warm, luxurious smell of fresh bread is spreading through the house.
The anticipation of it manifests, as our mouths start to water.
This is no ordinary bread, and it’s no ordinary day.
It’s Challah, a braided bread especially baked for the Shabbat.

Shab-what?

 

If you have no idea what I’m talking about you’ll find a brief introduction on the Shabbat here: Why You Don’t Deserve a Break

About six years ago, God was illuminating the word “Sabbath” for me all over the place and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with it.

“I’m not Jewish, God… what am I supposed to do with this? Why is this so important to you?”

I had a sense there was something missing from my faith life, a lack of direction.  Reading through the Bible, I found all the instances where the Sabbath was spoken about. But I still struggled with what I was supposed to do with the information. I felt a tension between being a Christian and the commandments in the Old Testament for the Jewish people.

Inspired by the Abnormal – A Christian Shabbat Celebration?

While working with YWAM here in Germany, we met a large homeschooling family, who at the time I’d define as “weird, but intriguing”. They told us how they had been celebrating the Shabbat (as they called it) from Friday evening until Saturday – as in the Jewish calendar.

 

They pointed out that the first thing God called holy was in

 

Gen 2:2 …So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.


He called a specific time, the seventh day – the Shabbat – holy (or set apart), for Him.

They explained the Jewish understanding of celebrations and festivals, and the Messianic implications. God created man and nature perfectly, in harmony, and then he rested. We would have gone on to have an eternal Shabbat until sin destroyed the plan.

 

I found this article -Shabbat – God’s Perfect Universe – to be a very helpful and enlightening  perspective on the Shabbat from a Jewish perspective.

 

“On Shabbat, the world reverts in a small way to its perfected state – to a fully functional and harmonious earth, requiring no human effort or intervention. Man does not have to labor to sustain himself. “

 

This family welcomed us into their home one Friday night to experience Shabbat for ourselves.

I was utterly astounded.

Christmas Every Week

Imagine your favourite celebration during the year.

Mine is Christmas. I have great memories of Christmas: the smells, the decorations, the food, the family, the laughter, the food, the eating, the chatting, and the food.

When our little family joined their family and friends and celebrated together, it brought me back to everything I loved about Christmas… but they did it every week!

I was looking for a way to teach my kids about my faith that didn’t just revolve around sitting on a church bench and being talked at. This experience hit the nail on the head. And the best thing of all was this teaching method was ancient, tried and true.

The Shabbat Liturgy

The wife lit the two Shabbat candles (the Mitzveh), one for creation, and the other redemption. I could smell the delicious bread which represented the body of Christ. We broke it and drank wine as we remembered the blood of Jesus and his broken body. The father prayed and blessed his children, and he read Proverbs 31 over his wife.

Then we all celebrated the end of the week together with great food, great friends and great fun. It was awesome!

Their Shabbat liturgy also contained other elements, but the ones I mentioned above are the ones that stood out the most.

We immediately incorporated it into our family routine.

 

Our Simple Christian Shabbat

For us this has really changed and developed and relaxed over the last six years. Since we aren’t held by any law that tells us how to celebrate, we do so how it suits our family for the season.

Here is what our family strives to include in our Shabbat Tradition:

An Opening Prayer

 

1. Candles – Lit by me (the lady of the house). One for creation, and one for redemption. Normally I ask the kids what they stand for and we take a moment to talk about God’s creation. How did he make it? Then we talk about redemption. Since sin entered perfect creation we have Jesus who comes down as our super-hero savior and “redeems” or “frees” us (explained to little kids). If there are adults visiting I will probably use some other words. But I try to keep it short and simple.

 

 2. Challah – The bread is normally a favourite for our kids and our guests. Everyone LOVES it. It represents Jesus who is the bread of life, and we break it as his body was broken for us.
I will post a recipe soon 🙂

 

 

3. Wine – a great wine for the adults and Apfelschorle (a yummy German drink of sparkling water and apple juice) for the kids .

 

4. Papa blesses each child, and reads Proverbs 31 over the wifey (me) – I love that once a week the kids get a blessing from their father in front of one another at the table. I also love reading Proverbs 31 over and over and over again. It teaches me, and my children, it inspires and makes us laugh sometimes too.

 

5. The Shabbat Shalom Song – I haven’t found it on Youtube to give you an example. So I recorded one of us. Just clap along, you’ll get it. The kids normally love it 🙂

6. A Special Meal – I don’t cook meat that often. So normally it’s a meat dish, and I tend to make ethnic (typically Indian, Afghan, Latin American) food since that generally requires more prep time. We also have dessert on this night, since we don’t have it any other time.

 

7. Guests! We have had seasons where we had someone new every Friday night, and others where it’s really been just our family. But as a general rule, Friday night is the night to invite people! We like to celebrate, and share in God’s goodness together. We like to make people think we’re weird (this big family doing “Shabbat”, what the heck? ), and then we like to spoil them with deliciousness.

 

8. Electronic free – After dinner, we turn off the music, the computer, the phones, and leave them off until Saturday night.

 

This one has a post of it’s own: Electronic Free Saturdays! . We started the Electronic Sabbath this year and Oh my goodness! If you don’t do this. START THIS WEEK!
It’s a challenge at first, and awkward. But I promise you, you’ll love it!
One day a week, no peeps, noises, vibrations, weather checking, music, Facebook, whatever!
We just sit around and enjoy one another and God.

 

As time goes on we will probably include other things. Maybe include longer readings or prayers. But our kids are still pretty young so we will keep it relaxed for now.

3 First Timer Christian Shabbat Tips

 

Especially if you have little children. Preparing a special meal, sitting down and restraining the desire to eat right away is tough.
We have had many Shabbat’s with screaming children, and others where guests show up late, or not at all. So here are some tips to help you get going!

        1. Have humour.
          • Especially when you have children. They tend to ruin everything. Just go with it, try to laugh, try to be silly, the point is to celebrate together and teach about who God is. The food tastes awful? What a great story to have… later. Ha!
        2. Start simple.
          • If cooking isn’t your forté, maybe use that evening as a time to try out new recipes. But don’t overwhelm yourself and go overboard. Maybe a new pasta recipe would suffice?
          • Start in small steps if you find putting on a whole meal overwhelming. Trying starting off with just the candles added to a meal, then add a tablecloth, then napkins and flowers.
            Aim for beauty, peace and pleasantness.
        3. Invite guests.
          • Hospitality is a huge part of God’s heart. We want our Fridays to be an of open home time for guests (friends and strangers) to come, relax, enjoy, and experience God’s rest and peace – His Shabbat
          • You’re not “entertaining”. You’re inviting them into your home and life. Imperfect as it is

Start Your Own Weekly Shabbat!

 

Since I can’t invite you over to my home to celebrate with us (unless you’re in Germany… than drop me a line and we will arrange something) you’re going to have to try it out for yourself!

This is your challenge:

Start this Friday even (or Saturday if that’s better for you). Invite some friends over, make things special, and turn off your electronics for 24 hours.

Then write me here and tell me all about it!

Struggling as a Mom Who needs Rest?

I love this post from Katie at Embracing a Simpler Life. It’s 55 Practical Ideas for how to have a Sabbath as a Mom. So if you’re wondering what YOU as a Mama can specifically do to rest yourself, this giant list of ideas is a fantastic resource. 

Welcome

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I’m Dani.

Canadian born, living in Germany, with my very German husband and four rambunctious kiddos.

When I’m not chasing after my 1 1/2 year old so he doesn’t run onto the road,
I’m running a loud homeschool, doing mundane but glorious household tasks, drinking coffee, reading, learning on Udemy and sleeping.

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My Bookshelf – Must Reads!




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Bad-Ass Mennonite Paska

Bad-Ass Mennonite Paska

uscious cream cheese frosting topped with cheerful rainbow sprinkles, and soft, white, sweet bread.
This is the taste of Easter in my mind.
It’s PASKA season!

Forget all those chocolate eggs, this sweet bread has rocked my world, year after year, since my beginning.

Menno What?

If you have no idea what or who the Mennonites are, here is a brief overview. We are both an ethnic and religious group. The Mennonites are members of certain groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations which sprung up after the Reformation. Originally from the northern German/Netherlands region, they eventually had to flee because of their firm conviction (or Bad-Ass-ness) regarding the mission and ministry of Jesus, and the believer’s baptism. They were relentlessly persecuted and had to leave to neighboring states.

You can probably guess by now that I come from a Mennonite background. I’ve spent many (many!) hours of my childhood, teenage years, and adult years listening to my Grandpa’s stories about our history. They often have revolved around fleeing from persecution and war, farming, and food. Check out how Mennonite Girls can cook for a bit more Menno-food.

Today, I want to share with you a taste of my history.

And I will do my best not to talk your ear off (like Grandpa may or may not have)…

Once a Year

Easter happens once a year and so does this bread.

Paska is not just a Mennonite bread, it’s also found  in Eastern European/Russian Easter cuisine. Maybe the Mennonites picked it up in Prussia during the reign of Catherine the Great?

As I was saying, this is a once a year bread! That’s what makes it so Easter-y and special.

Year after year my grandma would bring our family a load of fresh baked loaves, complete with frosting and sprinkles. They are the juiciest, softest, and best tasting-  in my humble opinion.

A Time to Remember and Share

Today my kids and I baked our yearly Paska loaves, and it was actually a lot of fun. Normally I get totally stressed out baking with the kids. I know it’s good to bake together, so I typically make an effort and restrain my anxiety. This morning was different. We had talked about it the day before and everyone was ready and excited for Paska Day.

As we prepared the yeast we talked about how the yeast reacts with the sugar, how it comes alive. We discussed Jesus warning the disciples of the yeast of the Pharisees, and how yeast makes it’s way through the whole bread.

After the bread rose, my second oldest showed me the dough and exclaimed, “It is risen!” as an obvious comparison to Jesus’ rising on Easter.

When we were shaping the loaves we all sat around the table and chatted, and enjoyed one another. I taught them how to braid loaves, and they came up with their own variations. We also made loaves for our neighbors, so they were excited to give our creations away.

Once we placed our sweet loaves into the oven, we all watched in awe as the dough gently rose, browned and finished. It was time to feast! I whipped up some quick cream cheese frosting, and it was time to taste the fruits of our labour.

Moments like these express what is fundamental to Easter.

Every year we remember where we have come from, what God did, what He is doing, what He is going to do and share that with others.

Bringing back Home

 

Since I live in a foreign country, my Mennonite heritage resonates with me now in a different way. Though I didn’t have to flee,  I as well had to start life in a different culture, with a different language and new traditions.

 

Easter is for me a bitter-sweet celebration. A mixture of longing for home, and celebration.
But by baking this Paska I remember them, my ancestors, and pass the history and traditions on to my children.
In this way, we create a sense of “coming home” to my family back in Canada.

Are you away from your family? Do you have any recipes that bring you back home?

Bad-Ass Mennonite Paska

My Grandma Martha's Paska Recipe

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Author Dani

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tbsp Yeast I used 2 fresh yeast cubes
  • 0.5 cup Potato water boil one potato in water, mash and strain and use the water
  • 1.5 cup Warm Milk
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • .25 cup Softened Butter
  • .25 cup Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • .5 tsp Salt
  • Vanilla to flavour
  • 5-6 cup Flour

Instructions

  1. Put the flour in a large mixing bow, with salt and yeast. Whisk eggs, add strained potato water, warm milk, sugar, softened butter, oil and vanilla. Add all to flour mixture, and stir and knead until you can form it into a ball. If it's still a tad too sticky put some butter on your hands.
    Shape into a ball, cover with a damp tea towel and let sit to rise in a warm place until about double in size.

    Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)

    Then, punch down, and separate into four balls. Place on prepared (parchment paper) baking sheet. Let rise again for about an hour. Then bake for about 20-25 minutes until browned and done.

    To test for doneness, tap the top of the Paska, it should be quite firm.