Sabbath and Shalom

Last night, friends gather for a meal---not just an ordinary meal but a meal to celebrate the arrival of Sabbath. It had been a very long week for all of us. One friend was in two wrecks--one that almost cost him his life. Another friend had been out of town and away from his family for 10 long days. Gwen and I just just finished two different soul care retreats. We were all ready for the Sabbath--that one sacred 24 hour period of time that begins with the "Sabbath Supper" or Shabbat Meal.We lite our Sabbath Candles and waved the light of the candles---the symbolic light of Christ into our hearts. We needed the light. The week had brought enough darkness. But the Sabbath Candle pushes and dispels the darkness in the heart. The Sabbath Supper is a time of being together.We broke the bread. The picture you see here was the actually bread we used that one of our friends had lovingly baked for the Sabbath Supper. It was a visual reminder for us of the Bread of Life that we all needed which would be our true meal--our necessary Bread.We raised high the chalice of our life around that table. We toasted each other and the God who joined us a friends and community.We spoke some blessings and one of which the men read a passage of Scripture, honoring our wives. The wives read one honoring their husbands and then we blessed each child. Gwen and I had the chance to call the name of each of our sons and daughters by name around that table and in doing so, we shared that even though none of our family was with us--we wanted to still bless them.Then we ate. The Sabbath meal transported us to have a lingering conversation of curried chicken, steamed brocolli and brown rice. The food, though excellent and lovingly prepared---was simply the very thing that allowed us to finally find each other in the midst of busy weeks and tired bodies. The table was the gathering place for us to linger, talk and connect.Now, it's the morning of my Sabbath and I'm taking my dog, Laz on a long hike on a favorite trail. Gwen will join other friends for lunch and later we will be together here and in the twilight of this very evening, we will look at each other and say something that will go like this. "It sure was a good day for sabbath---the day to cease the rush of our lives and simply raise high the chalice of our own life to God and say: Thank you.Shalom Sabbath!