What the Jewish do for the Sabbath

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It is always a pleasure to lead a Bible study or discussion on Sundays. I try to be as prepared as possible for any question my audience my have for me. I have been leading a study entitled “An Ordinary Day with Jesus” for several weeks now and something kinda stumped me. We were discussing the importance of observing the Sabbath as a day of rest instead of a day to play catch up. God took a day off so why shouldn’t we?

We began a really detailed discussion about when Sabbath takes place and what defines “rest.” Good question!! That was my only response. Then, I’ll get back with you. Here’s the deal. I knew from what little exposure this Arkansas Methodist has had to know that the traditional Jewish Sabbath begins on Friday evening. But what exactly do they do as for rest. So I put on my Nancy Drew mask and dove right into a research project. I surfed, asked questions, and have read for several weeks only to conclude that there are as many variations to rest as there are for work. Here’s what I found most common throughout the practices I researched:

      1. Rest is defined as a complete rest from the world.

      2. Sabbath is 25 hours long. It begins on Friday evening 18 minutes before sunset and ends Saturday night when the starts are out.

      3. There are 3 candlelight ceremonies that commence during Friday night, Saturday’s lunch and Saturday evening.

      4. You celebrate being alive by doing a stripped down version of daily life.

Interesting isn’t it. Ahhhh, but there’s more. The more traditional do not use electricity, do not turn on the TV or the computer, and they don’t spend any money during those 25 hours. Some say that any kind of “work” that brings pleasure isn’t considered “work” and can be done during the Sabbath. I really enjoyed the idea of stripping down to no spending money or working so you can create a sacred space (time) in your life to linger on conversation, fellowship, and personal quiet time with God.

As a Christian, who only knows enough about the Jewish beliefs to be considered dangerous, I would love to observe the Sabbath in that way. Oh…. well….. wait a minute…..We proclaimed Sundays as our days of worship and rest. I don’t know about you but even when I was a Children’s Minister, Sundays are filled with getting the kids to their afternoon church activities, attending my church activities and preparing for Tuesday’s Bible class. I hear friends complain that they have to go home after church to clean up and get ready for that night’s Bible small group. I hear the teenagers trying to schedule a choir practice, band practice, play practice, this practice and that practice at church knowing that mom and dad are busy catching up on their small group studies so they won’t look “bad” or “unprepared” for their small group time. Does that sound restful?  Want my opinion? The Jews may have something to this Friday night-Saturday night deal.

…..to be continued……..

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