We read these every Saturday night to begin our time of Sabbath. These are "kid-friendly" wordings based on a few paragraphs in Abraham Heschel's book I Asked for Wonder. The language of his book is poetic and beautiful, but I reworded them because it is hard for little ones to understand. We pick one of the passages to read with our meal together to start our 24 hour Sabbath time each week. Here are the 7 passages:
The Seed of Eternity
If you want to start the Sabbath off right, like a day that is really special, the first thing you must do is stop all the things that make you busy. Our work is not really that important and it never seems to end anyway, so one day a week we stop all the things that make us tired and busy. If our days go on and on with no rest, it is like a bad-sounding song with high screeching notes and our bodies and minds start to feel really tired. We start to want more and more things and stuff we don’t need starts to fill up our life. We think all this work to get more stuff will make us happy, but it ends up making us sad. On the Sabbath, we say bye-bye to our jobs and chores and we learn that God created everything around us and He doesn’t need our help to keep the world spinning.
Six days a week we try to get everything done that needs to be done. On the Sabbath, we are taking special care of our soul that is inside us. God has put a little bit of heaven in our souls- it’s like a little seed that grows into a big tree. We know we can see and touch the world around us, but we also know that our souls are connected to Someone Else that we cannot see.
Six days a week we are always trying to get a lot of things done, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath day, we try to stop ourselves from doing any work.
The Great Cathedral
Some religions have special places, we have special times. We have the Sabbath each week as a time that is set apart- holy. We celebrate other special days each year too, where we learn more about God and realize how much we need Him. We don't need a special building to get to know God- we need time. And when we follow the routine and rhythm of Sabbath and God's holy days each year, we find the time we need. We become so attached to these special times, we wonder how we ever lived without it.
We set apart one day a week for freedom. We are free from our jobs, chores, homework, or any other work that makes us tired. We are free to do whatever makes us feel free. We are free from bad words and thoughts, and the only thing on our to-do list is “nothing.” We are free from phones, TV’s and other technology that seem to rule our lives the rest of the week. For one day, we stop trying to fix our problems with money, relationships, or anything else in this world. Is there any other tradition that gives us more hope and helps us become our best selves other than the Sabbath?
The seventh day is a way to pause our lives from feeling so hard, even when nothing has really changed. When the seventh day comes, it is like a little bit a break from any conflicts, fighting, or tension. Sometimes we are mad or frustrated with each other, the world, or with ourselves, and the Sabbath brings peace to all areas of our lives. We don’t have to worry about money at all; it’s best if you don’t even talk about money on this day. Money is the most important thing to everyone else in the world, so on the Sabbath, we don’t let it have any of our attention. Only God gets our worship on the Sabbath.
The seventh day is telling sadness and worry to go away all day long. Even if you’ve been in big trouble all week long, you can let it go on the Sabbath. God has set up the Sabbath for us, and we can’t speed it up, slow it down, or skip it when it comes each week.
Island of Stillness
There are 24 hours in each day and 7 days a week. We live day in and day out in time. All this time seems so crazy and frantic with doing work, but every week we get to have Sabbath time. It’s like this: Pretend you are in a crazy storm in a boat out at sea, with the waves crashing over you and the wind blowing your boat in all directions. But then you see an island with a harbor, where you can anchor your boat for a while and come in from being out in the crazy sea. You sail into the harbor and your boat rests. You rest. That is what the Sabbath is like for you.
The seventh day, the Sabbath day, is a day different from the rest of the days of the week. The stormy sea is like the rest of the week, and Sabbath is like that island with a harbor. It’s a place in time, where we can let go of things and stuff we normally think about during the week. We can let go of homework and all the things on our to-do list. We can let go of cooking, cleaning, and fixing. Instead, we grab onto God and attach ourselves to His Spirit.
Architecture in Time (Building Meaningful bits of Time)
We want to think about how important it is to remember Sabbath, as well as other special times in our weeks and years. When the sun rises and sets, think of it as a reminder from God to pray. When the Passover comes each year, think about the Exodus from Egypt. Remember God’s faithfulness, and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. One day, there will be no time. Jesus will come again, and it will be the end of days, weeks, and years. Use the time you have now well to build your faith stronger.
Holiness in Time
The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time instead of things. We decorate our houses and try to keep them clean. We give and receive presents, buy new things, make new things, and spend a lot of time thinking about all the stuff we have. All these things try to keep us from thinking about God. On the Sabbath, we say “no” to thinking about all the stuff we have and instead, we focus our thoughts on God. We think about how the Sabbath is set apart from other days of the week, and how just as God rested on the seventh day, we get too as well. We use our toys, cars, phones, and other stuff all week long, so one day a week we stop and think about Who made it possible to have all this stuff in the first place. We think about how God made the whole world, and what a wonderful thing that is.
The sun sets on our block in Boise, Idaho. Sabbath comes, whether you are ready or not.