Saturday, 4 October 2014


About 10 years ago, when my children were young teens, we decided to begin a new family tradition. Actually, it's an old tradition, one with which Jesus would have been very familiar: Shabbat.

No, we aren't Jewish and we aren't even Messianic Christians, but we thought that the habit of sitting down to a special family meal with prayers and meaningful, precious time together was going to become even more important as the children moved into an older, busier season of their lives.
The table is set, bread covered with a cloth, white candles, a small bowl of salt, glasses for the wine.
Many families in the UK set aside Sunday Lunch for this special family meal. Often, Christians will share it with others. Being invited to Sunday Lunch with another family is always a privilege. This was never going to work for us. My family are (and the children were then training to be) worship musicians and we were frequently up earlier to set up the school where our church services were held, with the sound equipment and for a rehearsal. After packing everything away, we would often not be home until 1pm, far too late for me to prepare a complicated, full, hot meal!

So we settled on Saturday evenings for our Erev Shabbat. This means the evening before the Sabbath or the first evening of the Sabbath. I did some research and found a pattern of the prayers which I liked, printed them out and laminated them. We began with the lighting of candles and proceeded with prayers of thanks for the wine and bread (challah) and the dipping of the bread in the salt. We would then enjoy a meal and the conversation we always knew, would need to 'avoid affairs of the world and focus on the things of God'.

Two loaves of home-made challah, a plaited sweet bread, to remind us of the double portion of manna given to the Jews in the desert the day before Shabbat.
No matter how hard we had worked during the week, how busy our lives had been, or how fractured our family became, Shabbat remained as a longed for oasis of calm, looked forward to by us all, even through those turbulent teenage years.

Jamie would pray and asked for God's blessing on his children and always took time to praise his wife (moi). I cannot tell you how helpful, and what an encouragement, this has been throughout the last 10 years. Even if I'd been a horrible shrew that week, he'd find something precious and generous to say about me, in front of our children. It was the formalised nature of this which ensured it happened and was instrumental in my re-aligning my heart with God's.

It was also touching to think that the pattern of events would have been very similar in Jesus' family growing up and a lovely connection with millions of others throughout the world and through history.

As the children grew up, we'd invite their friends, or other families, to join us for our Saturday evening celebrations, which often concluded with singing God's praises.

Now Jack's wife and child join in when we gather. This has been a well worthwhile practice and I encourage you to consider it for your own young family, Dear Daughter.

Jack at about aged 11 and Grace, perhaps 14.

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