While during my year of study in Jerusalem (a long time ago), I remember the time when a few of us went out to see a movie in the western part of Jerusalem. We labeled this particular theater the Ice Box, for during the rainy winter months of January and February, this old place never had heat. Our guess is that it didn’t even have a heating system.
So on this Friday afternoon, we hopped on Bus 5, the local Egged Bus that ventured over to this part of town, to see the famous movie For Whom the Bells Toll, starring the charming Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman. Little did we realize that the Ice Box was offering a double feature this day. So following watching the first movie, we decided to stay for the second one. I also remember this movie’s title as well – It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, staring Jonathan Winters and a host of other well-known people.
The problem was that we lost track of both time and what day this was. Because the Ice Box wasn’t particularly observant of the laws of Shabbat (the Sabbath), once the second movie ended, we came out to a completely quiet city. You see, Shabbat had already come with the Friday sunset. This meant, for the most part, everything was shut down until the Saturday’s sunset. As for as we were concerned, this also meant that all the local busses stopped running as well! How would we get home? Could we call anyone back at our school, or would e have to walk home? You guessed it … we walked home.
Still today, especially among the Orthodox community, Shabbat is observed every week. Shabbat is a special time of setting aside one’s life to spend with God, family, and friends. Shabbat is ushered in with candles and a blessing. No work is done at all, even to the extent of turning on a light switch or pushing an elevator button, acts that all constitute work. It is a time of contemplating the blessings of God. It is a time of greeting one another with a thoughtful “Shabbat Shalom.”
In a way, I wish our evangelical community preserved a day like this. Now I am not one to complain when I sit down in my lazy boy chair each Sunday to watch football, or nap, whichever comes first. Personally, I don’t do much on Sundays, other than teaching and preaching.
But Shabbat is all about a mindset of separating our lives for one day of the week, approaching it differently than the rest. Shabbat is all about remembering the role that God wants to play in our lives. Shabbat is all about enjoying rest in God!
And by the way, we would visit the Ice Box many more times during the course of the year. But never on a Friday afternoon!