A Raucous Sabbath in Jerusalem
I didn’t grow up Jewish, but I did grow up in a strong Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. I remember being asked as a kid to come into a man’s house to turn off the fire on his stove–it was okay for a Gentile boy to do that work on the Sabbath.
My family worshiped on Sunday, so Sunday was “our Sabbath,” which meant we didn’t play outside, we didn’t read the Sunday paper, not even the comics. In fact, all we were allowed to do was go to church, eat, and take naps–not a very fun-filled day for a kid. When I got my first car, no more Sabbath for me.
But I’ve always been curious about the Sabbath. I led a retreat for the Seventh Day Adventist men’s group several years ago and was prepared for some older man to talk to me about worshiping on Saturday. Some older man did talk to me, but he simply asked me what I did about the “one-in-seven” principle in the Bible. We had a great discussion that I’ve never forgotten.
Well, we were in Jerusalem recently and our tour took us to the Western Wall (it is no longer called the “wailing wall” by the Jewish people). It was Friday afternoon, and all the individual synagogue’s were bringing out into the square their cases of prayer books, and getting a place to pray in front of the wall. Then all at once, there was a large contingent of soldiers who came running into the square. They were singing loudly as they ran. For several hours, they danced and sang, carrying people on their shoulders, and having a great time of celebration.
I had been wandering through the crowd with my grandson, David. I talked with several of the older rabbi’s as they paused in their prayers, and then as things quieted down after sunset, I talked with three of the soldiers. I asked them what they were celebrating–we had speculated that someone had gotten married, or received a promotion, or something like that. The soldiers’ answer was in unison and was simply: “It’s Sabbath–in Jerusalem!” I responded incredulously, “Really?” All three of them smiled and said, “Really!” There was nothing somber or sleepy about their celebration. That experience gave me a whole new perspective on how the one day in seven is meant to be different–but it’s also to be a celebration!
Question: Think about how you could make “one day in seven” different, and make it a celebration.