In obedience to the Lord, our family began observing the Sabbath Day (Shabbat) commanded by the Lord in His Ten Commandments. This has been such a blessing to our family. We love to celebrate this day and give it to the Lord. In the Jewish Traditions, the Jewish people's whole focus during the week is the Day of Shabbat. They make sure the Shabbat is a day they make a priority above all their other days.
The Shabbat is the day God commanded His people to set aside and Rest---Something everyone needs. A day of Rest is so needed especially in today's society of rushing and doing it "all"-- day by day. Day to day we are putting demands on our lives---Working, cleaning, cooking,etc.--making our days BUSY. Of course, the One who has created us and knows us more than we know ourselves, has said "Take a day of REST"-- Lay aside all that you do and REST in the LORD's goodness. This is what we will do in the DAY the Lord comes. We will rest in His Glory. We use the Shabbat as a teaching tool and a celebration of who He is in our lives. It has brought wonderful blessings that are to many to describe.
This special Day takes some preparation. Like I mentioned before, the Jewish custom was to prepare all week leading up to the Shabbat. Our family uses Fridays as our day of Preparation---I want to add here that whichever day you choose it is blessed by the Lord. Some use Sunday as their day of Shabbat. We have at times set aside Sunday as our day of Rest. Our family prefers Saturday because we like Sunday as day to begin preparing for the beginning of the Work week (Monday), so Saturday is considered our last day of the week. We do still go to church on Sunday but when we get home Shabbat ends. We begin on Friday night and basically end it Sunday after Church.
We use Friday as the day to prepare for Shabbat. On Friday's the children and I usually, do our deep cleaning---dusting, mopping floors, scrubbing bathrooms, etc.... I usually plan a large meal with all the fixings---I try to make the meal extra special, somewhat like Thanksgiving. Right before Donnie comes home and before the meal is cooked. I burn candles in my home--- Representing Jesus is the Light of the world. Praise and worship music sometimes is playing throughout the day. I am setting the mood in my Tabernacle of Worship. When Donnie comes home we sit down at the dinner table and begin our Shabbat meal.
We don't eat as soon as we sit but we follow the ways of an actual Shabbat meal ceremony. Most of the information I have gathered came from the Above Rubies web site. Here are the steps we follow:
The Lighting of the Candles
In Jewish custom, the Lady of the house lights two white candles. The lady of the home represents the heart of the home and and who brings forth life (children). The two candles represent "Remember" and "Observe"--Remember the Lord and how He took you out of slavery and observe his commandments. The candles also can represent "creation" and "redemption"---God has created life and redeemed life through His Son Jesus Christ. I then say a prayer of thanksgiving--"Thank you Lord for being the Light of the World and for your salvation" During this time Donnie and I tell the children about what the candles represent.
The Blessing of Husband and Wife
After the lighting of the Candles it is customary for the Husband to bless his wife and the wife blesses her husband. Donnie then turns to me and looks into my eyes and says wonderful words of blessings to me. Then I turn to Donnie and I look into his eyes and bless him. This is so awesome and such a reminder of our covenant of being one flesh. As well as sharing this moment with our children.
I wanted to add something I didn't mention in the beginning. God has also put the desire in our hearts to share this Shabbat meal with friends. We have had the privilege of sharing this with some friends. They have been so blessed by the experience. They also get to participate in the candle lighting and the blessing of their own. We just take our turns. So everyone present gets to hear the words of blessings taking place---this is so Powerful to declare this to your loved one in front of others.
The Blessing of the Children
After the blessing of the married couple takes place,the Father will then bless each one of his children. Donnie starts with the blessing of our firstborn Justin and he goes down the line. Again, if we have friends over we take turns blessing our children in front of each other. Each one gets a special time of everyone present to hear the special words spoken over each child. The children think this is awesome.
The Washing of our Hand
In the Jewish culture it is customary for each person to pass a bowl of water around and clean their hands. In our home we take turns washing each others hands. So usually one of the children will wash all our hands. This represents how Jesus washed the disciples feet--Love and having a servants heart. During this time we sometimes sing a little song we know "Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts, let us not lift our soul to an Idol. God let us be a generation that seeks--Seeks your Face---Oh, God of Jacob. " It is the chorus to a contemporary song in the Christian music world. I don't remember the group--Sorry. These words are taken from Psalm 24. The bible speaks several times about having clean hands and a pure heart before the Lord. During this time, we also release any unforgiveness or offense or ask the Lord quietly to forgive us of our sins. This is preparing us to receive the table of the Lord without sins before us.
The Communion--Breaking of the Bread and Drinking of the Vine
After the cleansing of the hands has taken place we then bless the Bread of the Earth and the Fruit of the Vine--in terms of the representation of Christ's body and his Blood---The Communion. Donnie begins with the blessing of the Vine by saying the traditional Hebrew blessings of "Blessed art thou, Oh Lord God, King of the Universe, who brings forth the fruit of the Vine"---Thanking Him also for the Shedding of the Blood of His Son. He then blesses the Bread---"Blessed art thou, Oh Lord God, King of the Universe, who brings forth Bread from the earth."--Thanking Him for the Broken body of Christ, which was broken for us.
For this time of Communion---I purchase a nice bottle of red wine--I know some might have reservations to drinking wine but you do what is best for your family and convictions. We also use grape juice for the Children even though we offer them a taste of the wine. We don't forbid them. We also let our guest know that we will drink wine during our meal---Just to make sure it is OK with them. Some might not approve but this is OK. We have drank juice before to respect some of our friends wishes.
Time to Celebrate
After the ceremony we have a nice meal. By this time we are very hungry and look forward to sharing the table of the Lord together. We usually have great fun and fellowship. We laugh, play games, music, what have you. Whatever we do we have fun and remember God and how awesome He is.
I encourage you to seek and find. To make a place of REST for your Family. To set aside and reflect on the Lord's greatness. And celebrate His Majesty---Feast in His presence. God is into celebrations---He loves to feast! So Take and Eat from the Goodness of the Lord---Shalom Shabbat.
Blessings--(Check later for pictures of our special Shabbat meal!)