I have a confession: I have never mastered the making of a proper, after church Sunday dinner. Probably because I detest the thought of having to leave worship to finish preparing the meal or to have to wonder during church if I put enough water in the roaster or if the temperature is too high. (Actually, I detest the thought of having to leave worship -period – for any reason!) So Sunday lunches have been normal cold lunches in our house with a warm evening dinner like any other day.
Perhaps that is one reason why the Jewish Sabbath ritual at Friday sundown is so appealing to me. It is centered around the table. Worship happens in the home, among family. No one has to leave the service to deck the table or (retrieve a crying child). Practicing it has opened up the meaning of ‘Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy’ for me. Holiness should start and end in the home. Making the weekly Sabbath meal special by using candles, the good china, a tablecloth, a prayer book, reminds us to be holy as a family. It brings the language of praise and worship into the house in an enriching manner that is accessible and unintimidating. Children may ask questions and get answers immediately.
It is also easily adaptable to our Christian faith. The blessing talks already of the bread and wine, we can easily remind our children of Jesus’ usage of the same symbols with his disciples. And it feeds both body and soul at the same time. Children will therefore relate the satisfaction of the meal with the satisfaction of the blessing and the acknowledgement of God as Provider. So often in the Christian tradition, ‘worship’ for our children gets equated with ‘boring’ or ‘something that the adults do’ or simply ‘inaccessible’. My older children complained LOUDLY when there was ‘family worship’ at church – no matter how ‘kid-friendly’ it was. They far preferred being in their Sunday School classes. So you can imagine how delighted I was when our youngest (now 13) asked if we could continue keeping the Sabbath like we did last summer in Jerusalem (usually as invited guests). It was like hearing a child ASK for worship! What joy! Of course, schedules being what they are, we can’t always do the Sabbath meal. This Friday evening is the Women’s World Day of Prayer Service here in Ebenhausen. I am participating in that, and a French meal will be served afterwards. So we will get worship and a meal, but not at home. Next Friday is my 50th Birthday. My husband has bought tickets for us to see the ballet ‘La Bayadère’, but I promised our son we would have a Sabbath meal before leaving for the theater lest the ‘holy’ get crowded out!