Day 12 | What if Lent is for Tensions? Pt. 3
Dear friends of ours are Jewish - Jewish by blood and Messianic Jewish by faith, meaning their hope is in Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, as our hope is. We’ve traveled life with them on and off for over two decades now, with their full family really – brothers, sisters, in-laws, kids, mother, father - or Abba and Ima as they’re called in Hebrew. We’ve had the blessing of sitting around many tables with them, were invited to their son’s bris, or family circumcision ceremony, and Abba and Ima were the ones who led the trip our Baker tribe of five was on when we all took a pilgrimage to Israel together in spring of 2015.
I love this family. I love the joy on their faces, the passion and conviction in their voices, the laughter and loudness of their house when the kids are all running beautifully wild and full of life. I love seeing mother and sisters standing talking together, so much alike and so different. Father and son (and daughter!) reading from the Torah in a Saturday Shabbat - or "Sabbath" - service when we’ve visited with them in the past. I lean into the sorrow that passes like a shadow over Ima’s face when she talks about her family and the sickness of the concentration camps they were in, seeing family names on the walls at the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. They are a storied family, full of life, faith, and hope.
But one of my very favorite spaces to sit in with them is when any of them sing a blessing in Hebrew. I think most often we’ve experienced Ima singing it, often at the start of a Friday night Shabbat meal, Saturday Shabbat starting as the sun sets Friday evening. Lights are dim at the table, crystal glasses and porcelain plates sparkle in candlelight, waiting empty and eager with linens and flatware ready at hand. Gracefully lifting a prayer shawl to her head, she lights a candle and begins to sing in Hebrew in her lovely, familiar tone.
Baruch atah, Adonai – Eloheinu Melech Haolam…
"Blessed are you, Lord our God – King of the universe…."
I wish you could hear it.
There’s something comforting and profoundly deep, steeped in history (“His-story”), knowing this blessing or one similar to it has been sung at Hebrew feast meals for thousands of years.
You shall have a song as in the night when a feast is kept.
Remember? Isaiah 30.
As in the night.
When a feast is kept.
Bing! Light bulb. PASSOVER. Parting of the Red Sea.
Psalm 77 and Isaiah 30 collide in my mind, and I’m reminded of God’s strange command for the people of Israel to craft and consume a highly symbolic, sacred, sacrificial, and I’d even say “artistic” feast in the night just before they are to be called out of Egypt to miraculously cross the Red Sea, out of bondage and into intended freedom. The bread is to have no yeast for there’s no time. Their garments are to be tied to their waists, as if ready to run. Blood marks the doorposts of their houses. And quite possibly a mother’s voice even then raises a blessing as she lights a candle, just maybe. All over Egypt.
Prophetic, symbolic, artistic feast statement of faith. Worship. All this just before God makes a way out.
It’s not lost on me that God calls this people to a table and a song just before deliverance. There’s tension at the table, yes – with garments tied high, the family lamb on the plate, an uncertain future, while wailing is heard in Egyptian homes all around – YES, tension. But a certain FREEDOM is just around the corner, whether they know it or not.
I think too of the Holocaust when a way desperately needed to be made for this same people. Stories of adults and children even then who chose song and instrument and poetry to respond to a God they still claimed as their own, even in the darkest of nights. To ask for a way where there appeared to be none.
Have a song.
Sing it in the night.
And keep the feast, friends.
Much like setting a table prepares the way for a beautiful meal, our worship prepares the way for God’s work of healing and deliverance in us. We come around the table together in community, for nourishment. We surrender to him. We acknowledge his ways are higher than our ways. We stand in awe and gratitude and praise. We sing, we create, we respond. We trust that our Good Father loves us (and that we love him). Then we release our burdens to the only One who has the power to do anything about it. And we hit the road. For freedom.
Freedom & grace,
Back to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, people. More readings from famous dead guys and female bloggers on Lent and life. For now, a few questions for thought or discussion:
- If we define a “feast” as coming around the table in awe, gratitude, and belonging….. Where do you “feast” and with whom? How big is your table, and who is welcome there?
- What does celebration look like to you? How do you choose to “feast” in times of dissatisfaction, frustration, or tension (or do you)? If not, then what holds you back?
- What kind of song have you found yourself singing “in the night”? When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by darkness, hopelessness, or fear, what is your "cry into the night" and what can you learn from it?
- Where do you need “a way made” in front of you? What barricade, boundary, or border do you need removed to get to a more spacious place of rest, grace, and wholeness?
- How does any of this conversation instruct your worship? Is there any piece that would encourage you to stretch out or take more of a risk in worship?
Listen to our worship song of the day, Way Maker, below or find it here on Spotify on our 2020 Lenten Worship Playlist, growing daily one song at a time.
In the darkness I hear it.
In the pain I hear it.
In the loss I hear it.
In the hopelessness I hear it.
In the tension I hear it.
I hear the...
You have sung over me.
I hear the future you have breathed into me.
I hear the life you have resurrected in me.
I hear the hope you have sacrificed to bring me.
And so I respond.
In worship I respond.
I sing with you.
I sing to you.
With my voice I sing to you.
With my life I sing to you.
Lord, in this time of tension,
I surrender to you.
In this time of uncertainty,
I surrender to you.
I offer you my song.
I offer you my self.
I offer you my life.
I offer you my...