Our group was descending Mnt. Gerizim at the end of a beautiful day when I spotted it there in the dust at my feet- my first pottery shard. I picked it up, and rubbed the dust from its surface to find still barely visible traces of the potter’s fingerprints from long, long ago. I fit the first three fingers of my right hand into the imprints.
Just then, from up ahead came a shout from our guide as he stuck his head out of the door of the small shop in town. “Hurry up, everyone, if you want a snack for the drive home. They will be closing soon.”
I walked inside, picked up a pack of very American looking gum, as the proprietor spoke rapid Arabic to our guide. He was motioning to the setting sun outside, and the clueless American tourists who really needed to leave his shop. Moment later we were all hurried on the bus and on our way.
The last image grasped as we rolled out-of-town was the sight of the shop owner closing his door, and rushing across the street to join the steady stream of worshippers heading into the synagogue. The sun was setting. The time for labors had ended. The sacred time for remembering God’s goodness, and for drawing family close was near. Sabbath had come.
Alfred Edersheim was born in Vienna on March 7, 1825 to a prosperous, observant Jewish family. He converted to Christianity as an adult and became the author of treasured resources for the church on the Jewish roots of our faith. This is what he has to say about the Sabbath in his book, Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ,1876-
“The return of the Sabbath sanctified the week of labour. It was to be welcomed as a king, or with songs as a bridegroom; and each household observed it as a season of sacred rest and of joy. True, Rabbinism made all this matter of mere externalism, converting it into an unbearable burden, by endless injunctions of what constituted work and of that which was supposed to produce joy, thereby utterly changing its sacred character. Still, the fundamental idea remained, like a broken pillar that shows where the palace once stood, and what had been its noble proportions. As the head of the house returned on the Sabbath-eve from synagogue to his home, and the table spread with the richest each household could afford. But first he blessed each child with the blessing of Israel. And next evening, when the Sabbath light faded out, he made solemn “separation” between the hallowed day and the working week, and so commenced his labour once more in the name of the Lord.” – Edersheim
Oh, church…let us throw off our legalism and embrace the vibrant, joyful life which flows from a loving relationship with our God. May we always welcome Him moment by moment as a King, and as with song as the Lover of Our Souls. His heart is loving and good to us always. Amen.