Several months ago, my church’s pastor proposed a church-wide commitment to observing the Sabbath. To get a better grasp at the practice of keeping the Sabbath, my pastor attended a Shabbat service at the synagogue that my church meets in. He shared about his experience and why he wanted us, as a congregation, to participate in this. But why was celebrating Shabbat important to a Christian?
My spiritual journey has had a lot of ups and downs with a lot more questions than answers. Through my questioning, I’ve been considering the roots of Judaism in Christianity much more. I’m lucky enough to be working for InterfaithFamily where I have access to the many resources available to learn about Judaism and especially about Jewish rituals and practices like Shabbat.
Part of the motivation behind my pastor’s Sabbath proposal had to do with the fact that we tend to constantly run at high speed. I’ve found myself glued to my phone, constantly checking email, social media and anything work-related. As a freelancer, I found myself working around the clock and not knowing when to shut off. I was feeling tired all the time, my brain felt cluttered and it was affecting my relationship with my husband and daughter.
After hearing about this Sabbath proposal, my husband and I took some time to sit down and figure out the details of what our Sabbath would look like. I researched about Shabbat, read through the Shabbat booklet from InterfaithFamily and talked with some of my Jewish friends who celebrated Shabbat. I wanted to understand the different elements of Shabbat and why it was an important part of the weekly observance.
Our family decided that we would borrow some elements of Shabbat for our own Sabbath observation. We light candles and read the Shabbat blessings or different passages of the Bible that we’ve found meaningful from the week. We also disconnect and unplug from our phones during meal times, but we have been trying to aim for the entire time of our Sabbath.
Over the past few months, our Shabbat has come to include a family movie night and a commitment to not schedule activities on Saturday if we can help it. We have also been trying to meet with friends since the community aspect is also an important part of our spiritual journey.
It has helped us to center us as a family and to make decisions on the choices we make in how we schedule ourselves. It’s become a sacred time that has helped us to connect as a family and helped to shape the spiritual journey of our family. This Sabbath observation has become a time where we acknowledge that there is someone greater than us who is guiding us and remembering that our hard work is not meant just for us, but it is to also make our world better for those around us.
Including elements of Shabbat to our own observation was also an important value to share with our daughter. We want her to know and understand that there are so many ways that people practice spirituality and that we are all interconnected. And now we have created a space where we can ask questions, talk about spiritual things and integrate our spirituality into our lives rather than it being something separate or simply an activity to participate in on Sunday morning at church.
Embracing Shabbat as a Christian has helped me to better understand the foundations of my faith and has created a helped to create a deeper spiritual connection in a lasting and meaningful ritual.