Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur - A Twenty-six Hour Retreat

Sundown tonight marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. In Israel, everything - and I mean everything shuts down, even Ben Gurion airport. No traffic on the streets, all shops are closed.
I was in the small moshav of Zippori on Yom Kippur.
My friend and I walked the mile up hill to the tiny synagogue for Kol Nidre. We were greeted by solemn people dressed in white. The men sat in the front rows and we women and children sat behind them. The service was  in Hebrew. But I still felt connected. We all were there for one purpose - to acknowledge that we had sinned and needed forgiveness and atonement. After the service we wished each other Tzom Kal, may you have an easy fast. 
G~d calls His people to this day every year.
It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. Leviticus 16:31
It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath." Leviticus 23:32.

Yom Kippur is like a marriage retreat.
Most are held at a fancy-schmancy hotel, or conference center. In other words, couples get away together. They leave behind the business of their worlds and meet someplace to focus on one another. Time is set aside for one purpose only - to make the marriage better.
As a believer in Yeshua, I don't have to worry about whether my name is written in the book of life. It is. The sacrificial Lamb was provided on my behalf. Once and for all time.
When my husband and I walked down the aisle, our commitment was sealed. We vowed to love only each other.
Here's the connection.
Married couples need to work on their marriage. They can't smugly go through life counting on their vows alone to get them through the daily grind together as a couple. Like the husband who tells his wife on their wedding day, "I'm telling you now that I love you. If I change my mind, I'll let you know." We need to get away from the business of life and focus on one another. Miscommunications need to be addressed. Priorities need fine tuned. It's hard work. It's uncomfortable.
Our relationship with G~d is much like a marriage relationship. It needs fine tuned. It needs maintenance.  We need time to get away and take inventory. Sure, we ask forgiveness when we know we've blown it, but do we soul search? If we're honest, we'll admit that we don't have time to really do a thorough relationship check.
And so, G~d gives His people 26 hours to get away - to retreat with Him. Sure it takes work, especially in countries that not only do not acknowledge the need for G~d, but find it quite a bother when others want a relationship with Him. It takes creativity for mommies who have children with important needs. But, if G~d considers a block of time important, should we not also? Are there ways we can carve out some precious time to get away with Him, to deny ourselves our creature comforts?
Think about it.

For my Jewish brothers and sisters - צוֹם קַל, easy fast.
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