Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Sabbath Blessing

Sabbath Blessing
We welcome the Sabbath as a sacred time with a meal, a remembrance of creation, of the daily bread which sustains us in this life, and as a foretaste of the feast to come.  This meal traditionally takes place on the eve of the Sabbath.  For this celebration you will need three candles, a glass of wine (or grape juice), and a loaf of bread.  In honoring the Sabbath it is suggested that we share in a special meal, a feast, to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us.

All members of the household gather around the table.
The Lighting of the Candles
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for in the beginning you said “Let there be light!” and there was light.
            Light the first candle.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for you are the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.
            Light the second candle.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for with a powerful wind and tongues of fire your Spirit moves among us.  Amen
            Light the third candle.
This hymn or another may be sung. 

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise him all creatures here below.
Praise him above all heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen”

The Cup of Blessing
The leader holds up the glass of wine (grape juice).
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for you bring forth the fruit of the vine.
With this cup we remember that you quenched our thirst in the wilderness; that your Son is the living water who offered his life for us; and that by your Spirit you have gathered us together and made us One.  Amen
The cup is shared with all present.

The Breaking of Bread
The loaf of bread is lifted up.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth the bread of the earth.
You feed us in the desert with manna from on high; you are the bread of life that satisfies all our hunger; you are the foretaste of the feast to come.
Bless us (me) now with your presence; surround us (me) with your love; and fill us (me) with your grace.  Amen
The bread is broken and shared with all present.

The Lesson for the Day
The Gospel for the Day, or a Psalm, or another passage of scripture is read.
The Lord’s Prayer.
The meal is eaten.

We give you thanks, O Lord our God, for this food which we have eaten.  May it sustain us throughout our journey until we rest in you.  Amen

This Sabbath Blessing follows the model of the blessings offered over the Sabbath meal in Judaism; with the lighting of candles and the blessing of the wine and the bread.  Judaism is the foundation on which much of Christian practice is built.  Our scripture, our prayers, our life of worship, our honoring the Sabbath and even our understanding of Christ as the Messiah all have their roots within Judaism.  We gratefully acknowledge that. 

In offering these Sabbath blessings and the sharing of the wine and the bread, a Christian will be reminded of our celebration of communion.  The Sabbath meal, as well as the Seder meal, may well have shaped our weekly celebration of communion.  This, however, is not a communion service, per se, and should not be viewed as such.

It is a formal way to do what Christians have always done, namely gather for a meal and ask God’s blessing over the food, and share in a time of devotion.  It is to remember that the ‘breaking of bread’ with one another is a sacred act in and of itself that celebrates being part of the Christian family.

Within Judaism the Sabbath meal occurs at sundown on Friday evening, thus welcoming the beginning of the Sabbath.  We might gather for these prayers on Saturday night, or if your tradition is to have a special Sunday dinner, it is also appropriate to honor the Sabbath at that time.

The text for this blessing is all either in the public domain, or my own writing.  Permission is granted for its use.

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