by Cynthia V. Vaughan
This week I’m reading from The Sabbath by Dayan Dr. I. Grunfeld. It has been considered the “finest exposition of the Sabbath available in English” written to “fill an urgent need among English-speaking Jewry.” You might ask why I am interested in reading a book which was written for Jews. It’s simple: Jesus was a Jew. During this Advent season, I find myself wondering (more than usual) what it was like when Jesus was a child. Perhaps it is because I am more intentional about Sabbath keeping these days. In any event, I like what Grunfeld writes about the celebration of Sabbath, “itself a great spiritual experience.”
“Throughout the thousands of years of its history Sabbath has always been a day of joy and gladness in the Jewish home. Its coming is an eagerly awaited event for which the family begins preparing days in advance. In fact, Sabbath casts its radiant glow over the whole week. The days themselves are named in Hebrew in relation to the Sabbath: ” the first day to Sabbath,” “the second day to Sabbath,” etc. This is how the week looks to Jewish eyes:
Everything looks forward to Sabbath. Business and social arrangements are made in such a way that they will not interfere with the Sabbath. Little luxuries bought during the week are stored up for the Sabbath. When Friday comes the tempo increases. Every member of the household plays his part in the preparations. . . . the table decked with fresh linen and sparkling silver, with wine and challah and the Sabbath lights. The whole family change into their Sabbath clothes and a festive air overhangs the house. The scene is set for Sabbath, the royal bride, to enter.”
There is joy in the air, I can feel it! As we are preparing for the visitation of the Holy One, the Christ Child, this Sunday, let us strive to experience every Sabbath with the same joy and excitement and expectation that we had this week.
May the joy of Christmas surround you and may your special gift be the joy of remembering the Sabbath, to keep it holy!
In addition to her hospital chaplaincy, Cynthia serves as Sabbath Chaplain for the Harbor District in the North Carolina UMC Conference. She is ordained in the North Georgia Conference of the UMC, appointed to extension ministry in North Carolina as a CPE Supervisor/Chaplain at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington. She attends Wrightsville UMC in Wilmington.