Friday night lights

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It’s Friday night, which means we all gathered at the table and watched Courtney light the sabbath candles (the original Friday night lights!) prior to dinner. Then we all sang a version of “Shabbat Shalom” together. (Our boys love clapping along; it’s a catchy number, and it’s not uncommon for them to request this song regardless of what day of the week it is.) Then comes the best part– we eat! Together!

Courtney and I have always placed a high premium on eating dinner together as a family around the table, but we’re also pretty flexible… last night, for example, we all had an indoor picnic in our TV room and watched old episodes of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse while we sat on a giant blanket on the floor and ate burgers together. A. was thrilled, and Courtney and I enjoyed the change of pace, too. We were together, and that’s really the checkmark we were looking for.

But Friday nights are different. It’s a time to come to the table and shut off the noise and junk and burdens of the week. A time to listen to Courtney/Mama pray for us and speak words of thanksgiving and blessing over her 3 boys. A time to eat and chat and ask questions and listen and laugh and, best of all, linger.

We’ve found we have to be intentional about resting and relaxing. It can feel counterintuitive to approach sabbath as something you have to work at, but we’ve found you do have to work at resting because it’s not going to happen on its own. It can be hard work to shut off your brain from all the demands that keep echoing and clamoring for one more moment of your attention. It can be hard work to orient ourselves towards taking a day off. It can be really hard work. But it’s good work.

Zechariah talks about the primacy of “guiding our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79) and in a way, this is what Friday nights are about: we work at pointing our feet in the direction of sabbath peace and rest, so that we’ll start walking in that direction once the sun comes up.

Tonight’s sabbath meal concluded with A. putting on a quasi-dinner theater performance for us, with some inspired renditions of such classics as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. As he sang/shouted “Here on Gilligan’s I-i-i-isle!!” and then took a bow (or five), it finally sunk in that this week’s sabbath had arrived.

As much pressure as I place on myself to always be teaching my kids something about God, I know they’ve got me beat when it comes to sabbath. Sabbath is when I sit back and learn from them, because they are the masters of reveling in rest. They’ve got this thing figured out. Praise the Lord.

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