Homespun Truths

Homespun Truths

Homespun Truths.

There are as many ways of raising families in the Lord as there are families.

Like millions of others, we have a home that strives to be Christ-centered, that seeks to nurture the truth of the Christian faith in our children. But at the same time we celebrate many Jewish traditions in order to nurture that faith. Why is that? Much of our motivation to add Old Testament rituals, fulfilled in Christ, to our family life is due to our recognition of the Jewish roots to our Christian faith. We believe in the value of:

  • immersing ourselves in the same Bible that Jesus used, memorized and lived by;
  • studying the Jewish Bible (OT) as the long, exciting, helpful prelude to the Main Event;
  • learning from those believers who paved the way for the Messiah, savoring the stories of triumph and tragedy, and the fascinating events, that were the building blocks for Christ’s appearing in the flesh;
  • learning from the bloodline and heritage of our Savior;
  • utilizing the full-bodied, multi-sensory, experiential way children were taught in the Jewish homes;
  • exploring biblical ways to live out Scripture and learn from experience, which is how children, and all the rest of us, learn best;
  • using our family celebrations as vehicles for hospitality, as events in our home for friends and neighbors;
  • respecting our Lord by relishing the religious faith that He embraced and completed;
  • pondering and learning the deep spiritual truths revealed by the Jewish feasts and holy days, seeing as how these very truths lead inevitably to Jesus Christ the Messiah.

It’s amazing, and instructive,¬†how family-centric the Jewish Bible is. It appears that a main component of faith development is the celebration of historical feasts and liturgies in the home. That was God’s strategy for how to hand down the Jewish faith, from one generation to the next. Homespun activities, centered on the Torah, were how Jewish children became true believers. And this was how Jesus himself grew in his faith, through the religious orthodoxy of Joseph and Mary. That is something to seriously consider, isn’t it? Maybe OT rituals are ways to nurture the Christian faith as well.

So, we celebrated many Jewish traditions and activities, as well as a number of Christian liturgies, all of which are unpacked in detail in the section “Home Liturgies.” Here is a brief overview:

Dinner Table. We believe in the sanctity of the daily dinner table, and how it was not a time for “business as usual.” We didn’t want to limit our time together to domestic details, daily minutia, homework, school matters. We wanted to discuss more important things, to pick each other’s brains about thoughts or experiences we’ve had, dilemmas to unpack, satisfying or happy moments to share, etc. We also wanted the table to be open to friends and acquaintances, who then add to the whole experience together.

Sabbath. Often we would gather on a Friday or Saturday night, with candles on the table and a nice meal. We turned off all technology, we prayed through the fairly brief Sabbath liturgy, during which we honored mom/wife, and dad would place his hands over each child to offer a fatherly blessing.

Passover. We would host a seder for the family and friends, reading through the formal haggadah liturgy, and close with one or two joyful songs of freedom. We would discuss how Jesus was the fulfillment of the Passover, a Lamb without blemish, who was sacrificed to give us life and freedom. It was important for us to honor the Jewish traditions while acknowledging that it points to Christ. So we would use all the elements of Jewish Passover, all of which have historical and spiritual meaning.

Tashlich. This was a family time of repentance, fun and adventure. We would walk together in the dark late at night with flashlights to a source of “living water,” such as a stream, creek, or river. While walking in the dark, we would each gather little stones and put them in our pockets. When at the water site, we would each think about mistakes we have made, things we’re sorry for, and throw in the stones one at a time. And then we noted how God’s forgiveness covered those mistakes like the water covers over the stones, and we would watch as the stones disappeared into the bottom of the water. We would discuss how God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west, as far as the bottom of the sea where it is lost forever.

Sukkah. We made a temporary hut in the back yard with whatever we can find, to symbolize: the Jews in the wilderness; God’s faithfulness during insecure times; our wandering journey in this life; how God provides for and protects us during our temporary journey here before He provides a permanent shelter for us in the next life.

House Blessing. When we moved to a new house, we would invite a priest/pastor over soon after moving in, and we’d walk throughout the house, in each room, and throughout the property outside. The Blessing has prayers for each room and space, and led by candle light, we dedicated the house to God for His purposes. We liked inviting friends to join us in this Blessing.

We have found it doesn’t pay to be overly legalistic, rigid, or tedious with these traditions. There is plenty of room to enjoy spontaneity, to make age-appropriate adjustments, and of course each family can add their own particular flavor within the basic structure of the activity.

Feel free to explore and enjoy these compelling biblical ways to teach and nurture¬†the Christian faith to children at home, which has often been called the “domestic church.” Imagine the conversations that are sparked, and the seeds that are sown, when the family celebrates these liturgies together. Your children, and of course the adults involved, will have their spiritual lives enriched, their imaginations inspired, and their faith strengthened while you discover and explore the roots of our Christian faith.

One Reply to “Homespun Truths”

  1. I have always loved the perspective you take on the Jewish traditions. They are not something just for “practicing Jews” but for Christians to better understand and connect to Christ. Thank you for sharing and passing them on to your children!