Thursday, September 24, 2009
Light on Liturgy
The lights were low when I stepped into the room. Soft music was playing, a lilting cadence with a minor key and words I could not recognize. Taking a seat in the back, I observed the mixed gathering that waited in the audience for the program to begin. Then an older gentleman stood and moved towards the front, his head was covered with a Jewish cap. He greeted everyone with the Hebrew greeting; Shabbat Shalom! and welcomed them to the meeting.
As the evening progressed he shared some of his testimony - his journey from a strict Jewish childhood to his current ministry as a pastor of a Messianic Jewish congregation today. He blew the shofer, ram's horn, that is used to call the people to worship on sabbaths and feast days and it rang clear and bold. I could easily imagine the distance that such an instrument could be heard.
The wife gracefully veiled her head and lit the sacred sabbath candles. As she did so she repeated the ancient blessing of promised light. Then together they led the group through the blessings that the husbands speak over their wives, the blessing the wives give their husbands, and the special blessing for the children.
Then the man also went through the liturgy of the wine and the special bread that the family partakes of. After the blessings were completed he and his wife led the singing of traditional Jewish songs, and explained the traditions of the special service they perform every Friday evening to welcome the Sabbath.
The service was insightful and reflective. I think of the millions of Jews worldwide who share the worship of the sacred sabbath day. What beautiful traditions of hope and courage they have, and yet a darkness too. Do they know that the Light they invite into their homes each Friday evening has already come intangible rays? Do the gentle beams penetrate their heart?
Have the traditions in my Adventist belief system lost value and spiritual significance? Do I realize the full meanings of my habits and the reasons behind my actions? Does the Light live and abide in my soul or am I simply repeating liturgy?
I invite the Light to remain.