Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday evening and ends Saturday night according to tradition immediately after three stars are visible in the sky (or approx. 25 hours). On Shabbat we set our normal routine aside and remember that God created the world in six days and then rested from His labors (Genesis 2:2).
Shabbat is often considered the most important of the Jewish holidays - even more important than Yom Kippur or the other
High Holidays. This is because in the listing of the "Feasts of the Lord" in Leviticus chapter 23, Shabbat is listed first and designated as most holy. Proper observance of Shabbat includes three key elements: rest (menuchah), holiness (kedushah), and joy (oneg). During Shabbat we endeavor to spend time studying Torah (reading scripture,) praying, singing and worshipping the Lord, and recreating with family and friends. We light candles to symbolically welcome the Light of the Mashiach Yeshua (Jesus) into our hearts and drive away the darkness.
Since the Shabbat begins on Friday Evening, we often hold an Erev Shabbat Observance in our homes that includes a number of rituals:
Had’laqat haNeirot - Kindling the Lights
Bir'chot – saying blessings over the Wife, Husband, and Children
Saying Kiddush over the wine and HaMotzi over the challah (this is likened to communion)
Bir’chat HaMazon – Saying Grace after the Meal
The Shabbat meal is a time when friends and families share highlights from the week and sing table songs, called zemirot.
Remembering the Sabbath
In Genesis 2:3 we are told that God rested (shavat) from His creative activity and set apart the seventh day as the memorial of the work of His hands. God called the seventh day “holy” (kodesh), which means set apart as sacred, exalted, and honored.
The fourth of the ten mitzvot (commandments) is:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8)
The word translated “remember” (zakhor) means to recall or recollect past events and experiences and renew them in the present. In a sense, then, such remembering is a form of re-creation, where we reinterpret our lives and our identities in new ways.
How do we so remember? By candle lighting, reciting Kiddush, dining festively, praying, listening to Torah reading, and learning and discussing portions of Torah.
The following links are to Shabbat Seders you may download and use for your Friday Night Shabbat Observance:
A Shabbat Seder (Published by Hebrew4Christians)
A Simplified Guide for Christians
Shabbat Seder (Published by Loren Abraham)
Sabbath Evening Service