Perhaps you live in Yennevelt—far, far away from a Jewish community or a messianic congregation. Maybe you’re the only Jewish believer in your town and you want to celebrate Shabbat. You long for a meaningful Shabbat experience, a transition for you and your loved ones into a weekend of rest and worship, but frankly, you’re at a loss for how to do it. You don’t want to be legalistic and at the same time you acknowledge that Yeshua declared Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). You desire to exalt Him as the One who gives true Sabbath peace and rest.
We offer here some suggestions for a messianic Shabbat celebration with Yeshua at the center. It incorporates the three main cores around which a traditional synagogue service is built: Torah, Sh’ma and Amidah.
On Friday night, before sundown, light the Sabbath candles. Three women in attendance light three candlesticks, in honor of the triune nature of God. Pray:
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us and brought us into the light through Yeshua the Messiah. The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness would not overcome it. We bless and honor your name, O Lord, through our Messiah Yeshua, the Light of the World.”
One of the men in attendance stands behind the women and reads Proverbs 31. This honors the women who have prepared and set the stage for the celebration of Shabbat.
Sing “Sabbath Rest“.
The worship leader calls the people to chant the Barchu. Emphasize, “He who has the Light of life will never be in darkness.” Chant the Sh’ma, followed by the Scripture, “Yeshua was sent to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel” because of God’s great love. This affirms our use of the traditional synagogue liturgy, but gives it its fuller meaning in the light of our redemption in Yeshua.
The first and last benediction of the Amidah (below) are then recited, opening with praise and ending with thanksgiving.
Now take some time to sing some appropriate praise songs!
For those who are adventurous, a praise dance could be incorporated in the celebration. The dance would use the theme of Sabbath light and could be done holding small votive candles in glass holders. If no dancer is present, the group can do its own little hora around the table!
The song “Melech Ozair” is sung, celebrating that God is not just Lord of the Sabbath, but King of the Universe as well.
A short teaching from the Scriptures can be given. Short testimonies and praises to God of things He’s done that week can also be shared.
The Aleinu, meaning “it is for us”, is read by the entire group. In addition, Scriptures concerning the New Jerusalem or the Second Coming would be appropriate, as the Aleinu looks forward to the establishment of God’s kingdom and the day of true worship of our God.
End with a few lines of “Adon Olam“.
Enjoy a Sabbath meal together!
O Lord, open thou my lips, that my mouth may declare thy praise. Blessed art thou, Lord our God and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob; great, mighty and revered God, sublime God, who bestowest lovingkindness, and art Master of all things; who rememberest the good deeds of our fathers, and who hast graciously brought a redeemer to our children’s children for the sake of thy name.
We ever thank thee, who art the Lord our God and the God of our fathers. Thou art the strength of our life and our saving shield. In every generation we will thank thee and recount thy praise—for our lives which are in thy charge, for our souls which are in thy care, for thy miracles which are daily with us, and for thy continual wonders and favors—evening, morning and noon. Beneficent One, whose mercies never fail, Merciful One, whose kindnesses never cease, thou hast always been our hope.