T G I F
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.
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
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 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 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.
Generally our goal is to always include:
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 could probably have a post on it’s own. 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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. This isn’t the time to show off, but to love, serve and celebrate with one another.
- Have humour.
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!
- What was challenging?
- What was new?
- How did it make you feel?