Shabbat Dinner

October 26, 2010

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.”

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A Trail Through the Undergrowth

October 18, 2010

As I continue working on my Senior research project, I’ve been reading chapters of autobiographies from some of Kenya’s leaders, trying to learn about the vision they had for the newly-independent Kenya. I found this quote in Tom Mboya’s book Freedom and After (1963) and loved it!

“Africa, in these last five years, has been cutting new trails. Anyone who has hacked his way through a forest undergrowth knows that you cannot go far without some scratches and even some blood on your legs. Too many journalists and sensational writers have concentrated on these scratches and, getting this scene totally out of perspective, have interpreted Africa as a continent of violence and bloodshed. Being patient and unusually good-humored people, we are amused that this should be the view of white men who have started two world wars and burned up thousands of civilians with atomic bombs, and even now crouch in terror lest their opponents in East or West may loose their nuclear armories in their direction. We in Africa are confident that despite momentary falterings in the undergrowth, which I have frankly described, we are heading in the right direction along our new trail.” -262