Saturday, March 16, 2013

Behold How Pleasant: My First Visit to Zion's Sake Last Night

Before I tell you what happened, I just realized the video of the service can be seen at the following link:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

It's funny because I didn't realize I was on camera.  If anyone is interested what I look like then message me and I'll tell you the time-mark.  :  )

MOVING ON....

Here's my thoughts about last night's service at Zion's Sake:


We had to drive for quite some time but we eventually arrived at the World Outreach Ministry facilities in Newport News around 8PM. As we were parking, I saw into the windowed lobby and smiled--the greeters were wearing prayer shawls.

So we went inside and I looked around:  they had a framed constitution of the modern state of Israel beside the door, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant above the door, several tables with brochures such as one providing info about the upcoming Passover Seder.  The friendly greeters greeted us with "Gut Shabbos" and then we went inside the sanctuary.

The sanctuary, shared with World Outreach Ministries (a church), looked much like a mid-size sanctuary that you might find in any Protestant church--but only for a split-second.

Then you see that many of the Jews and Gentiles--of all different ethnic backgrounds--are wearing garments associated with synagogue:  some female-headcoverings, some or most men wearing kippot and prayer shawls.  I even saw men wearing tzitzit.  Also, there were so many people!  I'd say well over two-hundred (which is larger than most Messianic synagogues that I've seen).

The room itself was slightly unusual for a Protestant Church.  The balcony curving around the room had been decorated with flags of the nations.  There were banners with stars of David.  One banner made me smile because it said "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"  Toward the front of the room, standing on the bimah, was an ark made of wood and glass, containing a Sefer Torah.

You know, it's interesting about the flags...  The church we currently visit, the one that is starting to lean toward Jewish Roots, it also has the flags of the nations--the lobby is completely encircled by flags.  Is this common for Jewish Roots congregations I wonder?  Anyway...

At a certain point my daughter needed to walk around and we went into the lobby.  It was fortuitous because it allowed me to meet some really great men of G-d and to hear their stories.

I learned much from one man in particular.  I asked what any One-Law Messianic would ask:  what's the policy regarding Gentiles and religious observances?  The answer was that they have a non-judgmental policy.  Also he had a story about that.

This man had attended one of their organization's conferences and said that one rabbi had stood up there and said that if Gentiles came to his congregation that he turned them away to the nearest church, explaining that "he had nothing to offer them."  According to the story, this rabbi was later confronted by leaders of the organization.  The point of the story was that that rabbi was an anomaly in the organization, that most congregations in the organization are inclusive of Gentiles.

However, another point of that story could be that there will always be a serpent in the garden.

I also learned about the Rabbi.  He is a gifted speaker and a former sub-mariner.  His spiritual mentor, from what I gather, is Sid Roth.

A few words about Sid Roth.  I like him.  I've only read one of his books, however (The Last Lap).  It was very good.  I'll say this:  no one man has all the answers.  One should learn from a variety of teachers.  Even the UMJC can teach you something.  Each teacher has strengths and weaknesses.  Some men are gifted as planters/planners, some as scholars, teachers, etc.  Each is important.  And the Spirit uses each one in different yet equally important ways.

In summary, I hope this information will encourage Believers out there who have not attended a Messianic congregation.  There are others like you in the world (they just might not be geographically near to you).  But we ARE near in spirit.

May G-d strengthen Zion's Sake.  And may He strengthen all congregations that bring Jews and Gentiles (i.e. ALL of Israel) together.

P.S.  If you are interested in starting a congregation like Zion's Sake in your area, you might try contacting Rabbi Carlson through the website for Zion's Sake.  I believe it is zionsake.org.  It's the one located in Newport News, Virginia.

2 comments:

  1. So, I don't really know if I really what I see. First of all they are wearing tallitot at night, which is only done on Yom Kippur... Second,you say the service started at 8 pm, I may be wrong, since I am in Brazil, but probably it is already night on Shabat, no candle should be lit. Third is the use of the traditional blessing, which is kind of weird to practice a rabbinic mitsv√° saying it is a G-d given command, in a messianic/hebrew roots congregational - and doing it after the correct time...
    Then, comes the problem of the "service" as far as I've whatched it is not a jewish Service, it is a christian one with talitot - nothing against this kind of worship, just shouldnt be done wearing talitot... And there are people basically selling things, and, again, it is Shabat...
    I am not saying they are not well intendet and this is completely bad and stuff, the bringing gentiles and jews together is great! But this kind of thing just shows me how much we still have to grow.
    Sorry for the bad english... Peter I really aprecciate what I have read here!
    Chag Sameach Everyone!

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    1. G-d bless you, my Brazilian brother. Yes, our movement is still young and we're all learning--myself included. One thing is for certain though: G-d is doing something amongst the Gentiles. Shalom, brother.

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