Sunday 26 April 2020

Counting The Omer

I have always known that the Christian festivals of Easter and Whitsun happen at the same time as Passover and Shavuot. Jesus and his disciples celebrated Passover - and that meal is known as "The Last Supper" - and fifty days after Easter, God gave his Holy Spirit to the Church, when many Jews were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot. Jews and Christians alike call this time Pentecost [50 days]
What I have only just learned is that there is a Jewish tradition of Counting the Omer- marking off the 50 days [a bit like an Advent Calendar] An omer is a measure of grain, and traditionally, each day, the priest would wave this sheaf of wheat in the Temple as an offering to God. At Pentecost, the new wheat would be harvested and eaten and there would be feasting and joy. A celebration of the deliverance from Egypt and the giving of God's law to the people. [ [More about Counting the Omer here]
And that is happening now in many Jewish families around the world. But what really resonated with me is this - during the Middle Ages, there was a terrible plague, and many Jews died during the time of Omer. So now, until the 33rd day, there is a period of semi mourning, in remembrance of this. In this time, various things do not happen

  • no haircuts
  • no feasting
  • no weddings
  • no playing of music together
  • no buying of new garments
And here we are in a time of pandemic, mourning those we have loved and lost
  • hairdressers are closed
  • restaurants, and bars are closed- and family get-togethers are banned
  • weddings are not happening
  • bands, orchestras, music festivals, theatres - all silent
  • nobody needs new clothes, because they are not going out
The Counting of the Omer is seen as a time of reflection. Maybe we should use the quiet moments we have in these strange days, to 'number our days and gain a heart of wisdom' as the Psalmist says. 

Today's Sunday worship from UCF can be found on YouTube by clicking here. It will include Communion- please join us [you may wish to bring your own wine/juice and bread/wafer] 


  1. This is very interesting, Angela! I didn't know anything about it, until now. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you for sharing. This is a very good time for reflection.


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