The Sabbath Table

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One of my favorite weekend pastimes is celebrating the Sabbath with our Jewish family and friends. In the hours before I arrive, they will have been hard at work baking bread and preparing enough food to last for the next 24 hours. The table is beautifully set, and the aromas that waft from the kitchen make my stomach rumble. I sit down to enjoy the long, leisurely meal with a huge sigh of relief, knowing that a full day of rest lies ahead of me, one in which I don’t have to race around multi-tasking or accomplishing everything my to-do lists. All of the preparations have been completed.
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The host begins the meal by saying a blessing over the bread. There are always two loaves as a reminder that when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness with Moses, God provided twice as much manna on the eve of the Sabbath so the people could enjoy a day of rest. Our host breaks the bread into pieces and passes it around to everyone at the table. Next he says the blessing over the wine, which is also passed around. The rituals of bread and wine remind me of communion and Christ’s command to “Do this in remembrance of me.” I can easily picture Jesus’ disciples remembering His words and His sacrifice every Sabbath as they repeated this tradition.

One of the Ten Commandments says to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” meaning it should be different and set apart from ordinary days. The Sabbath food is special and often costly. We dress in our nicest clothes. There is singing and laughter and joy as we take our time eating and enjoying our family members and friends. Or to use an old-fashioned word, “communing” with them. I usually don’t want the Sabbath meal to end.
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Last Sunday we celebrated Communion at our church. I arrived frazzled and overwhelmed after a terrible week. I felt wounded and defeated. Then our pastor repeated Christ’s words over the bread and wine, and invited the congregation to come to “Christ’s table.” This traditional invitation struck me in a brand new way. I heard Christ inviting me to His table—a Sabbath table. He had completed all the work. The bread and wine had been bought with a great price. Now He invited me to come and to enjoy a time of close fellowship with Him. I heard His words as an invitation to rest, and more importantly, to rest in Him. I could stop struggling and striving. I was His beloved. I didn’t have to do any work to earn His favor except to believe and accept His invitation.
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My picture of the Sabbath table merged with the Communion table. I now think I understand Christ’s invitation in Matthew 11:28 a little better: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” It’s an invitation well worth accepting.

17 comments

  1. I’m blessed by this wonderful, & encouraging message. This is really helping me to understand the true meaning of Sabbath & the Lord’s invitation to His table of Holy Communion. I must rest in His promises given for me. Thanks and God bless you.

  2. This is beautiful, Lynn. And I felt a little bit of easiness (or His rest) come over me as I read it. I really needed this. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Lynn, yesterday I was at a Lenten Breakfast and the speaker was from Jews for Jesus. She explained the Seder meal to us. It was very interesting that it points to Jesus–and many Jews are not aware of that, just that it is a tradition. She also mentioned the Sabbath meal. Her family carries on the tradition even though they are converted to Christianity.

  4. Lynn, you have painted a beautiful picture of the blending of God’s desire for his people to rest on the Sabbath and the spiritual and eternal rest he provides for us through Jesus Christ and the communion table. Thank you.

  5. Remember when Sundays was a day of rest? No shopping? I worked in a drugstore during high school and on Sunday’s we had to cover the nylons! Too bad things have changed so much-I think Sunday’s are one of the biggest shopping days now.
    Thank you for the article-a blessing for sure.

    1. Yes I do remember, Shiela. It’s sad that God gives us a day of rest as a gift and we squander it by working. I’ve learned so much by celebrating the Sabbath every week.

  6. Thank you for sharing this beautiful meal with us. I loved your comparisons and how God brought to your mind during communion the insights He had given you through the Sabbath meal. Do you celebrate the Sabbath meal with converted Jews who follow Jesus, or are they traditional Jews? Just curious.

  7. Dear Lynn,

    I am Jewish and am wondering why the order is changed for the Shabbat meal for your Jewish friends. We Jews, on Shabbat, light the candles, sing a song, then bless the wine, say another prayer and then do the washing of hands and finally, we bless and eat the bread. I have noticed in your books that you also change the order to have the blessing of bread first and I am bit confused as to why you would do that.

    Thanks for your wonderful books about Jewish history

  8. Reading our Christian bible in
    Genesis and Exodds the only day God blessed and set aside for rest was the 7th day. That is the day Jesus worshiped on. God never changed it.

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