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Students 4-6

Grade 5, Chapter 22


Making Sunday Special

In Chapter 21, you learned about the Lord's Day. Here are some more thoughts about this day—the Sabbath for Jews and Sunday for Christians.

"We don't make the Sabbath. The Sabbath makes us." That's what Jewish families have said about this "day of delight" for many centuries now. In fact, of all the great festivals kept by the Jews, the Sabbath was the first.

Sabbath, which means "rest," was even kept by God himself on the seventh day of creation in the Genesis story. So the Sabbath has been a time to celebrate with family, to study the scriptures, and to refocus on God's plan for each person's life.

To protect the holiness and peace of this seventh day, Jewish families have "put a fence around it" by putting aside everyday activities. In many Jewish homes even the cooking is done beforehand, and people leave work early in the winter months so that they can be home by Friday at sunset when the Sabbath officially begins. At that time everyone in the household is freshly bathed and wearing dress-up clothes. The house is clean and shining. Just before sunset, the family gathers for a special meal. The mother of the family lights candles to begin the celebration. She says a special prayer of blessing. Then the father of the family blesses the wife and children.

This first meal of the Sabbath is celebrated at a beautiful table set with the family's best china on a white tablecloth. The table is spread with special favorite foods. One of them is challah (pronounced hal-lah), a special braided bread with a shining crust. Sometimes the children dip their challah in honey to remind them of the sweetness of life. There are special Sabbath songs, and a blessing cup, or kiddush, filled with wine is passed. The 24-hour celebration includes family fun times as well as studying the Torah. When the first three stars appear in the Saturday evening sky, the Sabbath has ended and a new week has begun.

Of course, Christians keep Sunday as the day of rest because it was the day of Jesus' resurrection. We think of Sunday as the eighth day of the week—a time when death is turned upside down and all is brand new, even ourselves! Recently, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to all Catholic Christians called "On Observing and Celebrating the Day of the Lord." In it he speaks of the mystery, the celebration, and the importance of keeping the Sunday Sabbath—our "day of delight."