“Yo! It’s sundown in like 10 seconds!” my brother Jeffrey shouted into a crowd of young people.
“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! YAY!” We all screamed for joy at the top of our lungs. And then it started: the barrage of questions.
“Alright mom, can you please take me to my basketball game? Cause I’m already kind of late,” Jeffrey asked.
“Oh and Mom can I take the car to meet up with my friends?” I had to throw my question into the mix.
“Dad, can my girlfriend come over?” my brother James inquired.
“Whew!!! HOLD UP! Wait just a minute, dang!” My mom said just loud enough for all six of her energetic, excited children to hear. “The sun just set and the Sabbath only technically ended about a minute ago. Why are you all in such a rush to get the Sabbath over with? Why aren’t you sad to see it go?
Those two simple questions hit me like a bag full of bricks. I mean that was years ago when I was a kid, but it still plagues me to this day. I recently asked myself these questions. Why was I so excited to see Sabbath leave? So as I lay there on my bed I began to think and remember. My long term memory is very vivid and it began to seem as if I stood in my yellow childhood home, an invisible presence seeing the hustle and bustle of my large family. I could hear the sounds of the stove, Charity’s meow, my mom’s laughter in the herb garden, and my father’s eclectic playlist of music wafting through the vents. Interrupting my reminiscing, my sister’s voice yelled out from the bright yellow and green kitchen.
“It’s time to eat!”
It was like the house rumbled with activity at those very words. Everyone erupted from their personal activities and crowded into the same tiny, middle bathroom. I noticed that the visible me had to be very patient because there was already a long line in front of me consisting of my sweaty brother who had just won another game of basketball against our tall, super skinny neighbor, my sister who’d been playing with the cat and was now covered in hair, my two brothers who had been running through our woods and had fingernails full of dirt and stank to high heaven. My Dad also sauntered in telling us to quit playing with the soap.
Since I was last in line, I wiped the countertop with a towel, clicked off the light and headed into the kitchen. The aroma of chili beans, fresh spring air, the cool feel of the wood floor beneath my feet, and the sight of my frazzled family sitting at the table all awaiting my arrival so the feast could begin made me smile. I sat down at my usual place, the very right of the bench nearest to Dad.
As I sat down, I heard the oh so familiar sound of the flick of the match against the box and the slight hiss of the fire starting. The strong scent of the candle pierced my nose and silence fell over the whole table. My mom’s beautiful alto voice started the chorus of the song we all knew by heart. Welcome, Welcome ever welcome, blessed Sabbath day.” My Dad’s bass echoed her’s and we all joined in singing the beautiful chorus. Then I started off a song I actually had written to fit the Happy birthday music. “Happy celebration to Jesus, Happy celebration to Jesus, Happy Celebration to Jesus, Happy Celebration to Jesus! Fancy huh?
There was a slight pause of silence and then the whole table burst to life!
“Jazzmin, can you serve the beans?”
“Jonathan, pass me the salsa, onions, and olives please.”
“James! Do not take that many olives! And slowly pour the salad dressing!”
My invisible self just smiled at the chaotic commotion that was my family. I sat there remembering all the great debates and deep conversations we’d had Friday nights at that very table. We’d talk about final events, our days, school, people, we even debated facts about the Bible, we’d laugh and tell jokes, and sometimes cry. But then we’d all get up and wash dishes, argue about who’s turn it was, and sweep the floors. After all the cleaning was done, we’d all meet back in the living room for worship. My visible self got situated on the brown, slightly off-key piano, cracked open the hymnal and found Marching to Zion. We all began to lift our voices in song. When we’d get to the second verse my Mom would scuff in with her big annoying slippers. She’d smell of lotion and look super comfy in her pink and white striped robe. She’d take her seat next to Dad and he’d throw his arm around her and we all began to sing the third voice, “the hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets.”
After that song, I gave up the coveted piano bench and let my brother play his favorite song, Worthy, Worthy is the Lamb. When the music drifted to an end, my sister offered up a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to dwell with us and give us understanding. We’d all repeat the fourth commandment and act out all the motions I’d come up with to remember the words. “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days thou shalt labor and do all thy work…Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and hallowed it.” Then my Dad’s soothing voice began reading the Bible or devotional. I sat by the tall glass doors facing the couch so I could look at my family. My siblings and I threw weird faces at each other trying not to laugh. My invisible self wondered when Jonathan would ask a question because I know he always did and like I’d predicted his hand shot up.
“I have a slight problem with people always claiming everyone in the Bible was black. Dad, but aren’t they in Israel? Historically the race of people indigenous to the society were not black. So how come black people continually insist that the whole Bible consisted of black people?” The invisible me smiled at his line of questioning because that same question had come up only a week ago in Sabbath school class. He is one persistent young man.
As worship came to an end we had to sing one more song, my mom’s all time favorite song, Now the Day is Over, “night is drawing nigh, shadows of the evening, still across the sky.” When the last note of the very last verse was ended, my father’s voice filled the room asking God for forgiveness for his family, protection over us as we slept, and thanking Him for giving us the Sabbath where we could come apart and worship Him.
My invisible self felt at peace. A calm wave of safety, security, and happiness washed over me. That’s what Sabbath was all about. It was about taking the time out to spend with my Creator, the Person who designed my unique personality, the Person who has never let me go hungry, the Person who always helps me fall asleep, the Person who wakes me up every morning. This Person who created not just me but the entire universe, the planets, the air, laminin, oxygen, elephants, ants, cheetahs, flowers, stars, everything, He wants to meet with me. All he wants is 24 hours of my precious time to cast my cares upon Him. That’s what Sabbath is all about.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
Genesis 2:2 &3