I put together this Sabbath “script”, drawing on many of the ideas and prayers I found in Martha Zimmerman’s book Celebrating Biblical Feasts. I wanted to follow her recommendations as to the elements and order of a Shabbat feast, since I had never participated in one before. Some of the prayers we read follow her suggested wording.
Other elements follow the pattern laid out in Ms. Zimmerman’s book, but the wording or scripture was chosen by me. It was important to us that the feast be explicitly Christian and that the symbolism would focus on Christ. According to our own convictions about communion, it was also important to us that our celebration would not cross from the realm of family feast into becoming a communion service, so we were careful to preserve that distinction. We also wanted each child to say a verse during the celebration; this is not traditional, as I understand it.
We took this feast seriously, and did it in a way that was worshipful, yet not legalistic. It was a joyous celebration as a family. To get the broader picture of what we did to observe Shabbat, see my post Celebrating Shabbat. There is also a post on Shabbat Recipes.
Our Family Sabbath
1) Preparation Prayer (mother speaks this prayer as the family gathers, just before she lights the candles):
O Lord our God, King of the universe, You who made the Sabbath holy, You who called upon us to honor this Sabbath, abide with us this night.
Almighty God, grant us and all our loved ones rest on this Sabbath day. Drive out from among us the spirit of anger.
Enable us by your Spirit to walk in the ways of Your Word, according to the pattern shown to us by Your Son Jesus.
Heavenly Father, we rejoice in your creation! It is from you that we receive every good and perfect gift. Giver of live and love, grant us Your peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
2) Mother says the following blessings before lighting the candles:
Creation (lighting first candle): This candle represents creation. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth light out of darkness.
Redemption: (lighting second candle): This candle represents redemption. Our Lord said, “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” As we light these candles and set them to give light to all who are in this house, light our lives with the great love of Your Son, Jesus, in whose name we pray.
Oldest child: “Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”.
3) Father’s blessing (Father walks around the table to each child, in order of their birth, and placing his hands on their heads, he blesses his children). He can pray that the Lord would bless each child, in his turn. After praying for each child (one by one) he shares a personal word of praise for that child. He may kiss each child, if desired.
4) Blessing of the wife (father): quoting from Proverbs 31:10, 27-30:
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying, “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all”. A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
5) The family sings the 1st verse of a hymn of choice, softly and prayerfully.
6) The father recites the Kiddush, the prayer of sanctification of the Sabbath, over a cup of wine or grape juice. After reciting this prayer, the cup is passed and each person takes a drink.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. The wine symbolizes life! The wine symbolizes joy! The cup is full! It reminds us of Christ’s blood shed out for us.
7) The blessing before the washing of hands (father): After this prayer, the bowl of water and towel are passed, and each person dips their hands in the water. One child could be chosen to carry the bowl around.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us through your Son.
Father: instruct everyone to cover their knives with their napkin. Father removes the challah cover from the 2 large loaves of bread and blesses the bread with these words: Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
If you have made small loaves of challah for the male children, each male in turn (oldest to youngest) can repeat the blessing over the bread, doing as his father did, removing the Challah cover from his own small loaf of Challah. Before breaking and passing the large loaf, the father reads these words:
The two loaves of bread remind us of the double portion of manna that the Lord provided for His people in the wilderness, so that they would not need to work for bread on the Sabbath. The loaf is twisted, to represent folded arms, as a reminder to do no work on the Sabbath. The Challah cover represents the dew that was on the ground every morning that the Israelites wandered in the desert. When the dew evaporated, behold, there on the ground lay the manna. It reminds us that God provides.
Child #2: Today we rejoice in God’s Son Jesus, who said “I am the bread of life”. His body was broken for us.
After the loaves are blessed, the father breaks the large loaf with his hands and takes a piece. The loaf is then passed around the table and each person breaks off a piece, feeling thankful in their heart.
Child #3: “Eat thy bread with joy”. Everyone can take one bite of bread.
Child #4: Give us this day our daily bread.
The meal is now served. Eat it leisurely.
The Father closes the meal with this Sabbath blessing: The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace. For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses: grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
Sunday evening: close of the Sabbath:
Help each other find 3 stars in the sky. Mother closes the day with prayer.
Light a single candle and let one child hold it. Let another child hold the spice box.
Father fills the wine cup, placed over a dish, with wine or juice until the cup overflows. Father leads the family in prayer.
Father puts out the candle in the dish of overflowed wine. Father says, “The Light of the world went out for three days as His blood was spilled for us.”
Pass the spice box around, each person taking a deep breath and remembering that they anointed His body with spices, as was the custom.