This past weekend, a friend invited me to Shabbat dinner and it was an intriguing experience.
Lauren Winner, one of my favorite authors says about the Sabbath:
“God rests, and God—through commanding the Sabbath—invites us into his rest. It’s not more sophisticated than that. Part of what we are created to do is rest with God. That’s the difference between Sabbath and a bubble bath. Are we just resting? Or are we resting with God. The Sabbath is not principally about me getting relaxed. Getting relaxed is good. You might get relaxed on the Sabbath, but that’s not the point of it.”
Although we are no longer under Old Testament law, it is still a beautiful thing to be able to rest in a way that God designed just for us.
At the Shabbat dinner, we began with songs, lit candles, and then had wine and bread. I listened as the group recited Kiddush over the wine and an additional blessing over the bread. I had so many thoughts running through my head. For one thing, it seemed so familiar, but in a completely different context.
I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like to sit at The Last Supper, and watch Jesus take the usual bread and wine and say something entirely bizarre and unexpected: “This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood shed for you.” I mean, what? But also how incredible to take familiar symbolism and imbue it with brand new meaning. As I carefully swallowed the wine and bread I thought over that evening meal two thousand years ago and breathed a silent prayer of thanks, in awe once again of what Jesus did for me.
I’ll end with further reflection by Lauren Winner:
“Eucharist, Mass, and Communion all have their place, but I want to start a campaign to revive an older name for the Eucharist: the Viaticum. Viaticum was a Roman term; it designated the food, clothes, and money that a Roman magistrate took with him when he traveled on state business. It was the necessaries he needed to get him through his trip … The Eucharist, the Viaticum, was the necessaries for our journey through this life. It was, in the words of one minister, “the sacrament of maintenance.” It is like what the angel said to the exhausted and broken prophet Elijah, collapsed in a sleep under a broom tree. The angel waked him and said, ‘Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.’ And that is the Eucharist. If I did not eat, the journey would be too great.”