Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nothing Like a Room Full of One-Law Messianics



Went to a One-Law Messianic fellowship this past Shabbat.

We arrived at the fellowship around 2PM (and didn't leave until I'm guessing 7PM).  The meeting place was out in the country in a modern-styled library.  The building was compartmentalized so that people could reserve the meeting room and have access to restrooms even after the library was closed.

The meeting room looked a bit like a university classroom with rows of tables, people seated with their laptops like students taking lecture notes, and a big projection screen at the front of the room.  But along the back wall there was a row of tables loaded with simmering crock-pots.  Along another wall was a kitchenette separated from the main room by a counter.  In another section of the room was an activity space for children.

To my surprise, I later learned that they were able to use this facility completely free!

THE SERVICE

The chronology of the service looked like this (approximately):

2PM to 4PM:  Group Torah-Study

4PM to 4:15PM:  Snack Break

4:15PM to 5:00PM:  Praise and Worship

5:15PM to 6:15PM:  Sermon

6:15PM:  Dinner

THE FELLOWSHIP

They identify variously as Messianics or followers of the Way or One-Law, etc.  The men (mostly non-Jews) tend to wear tzitzit.  The entire group shared a passion for Biblical languages and engaging with the various source texts (LXX, MT, etc).

As I met people, one question I  asked was "How did you come to get involved in Messianic Judaism?".  Here's the story I got from one lady named "Kate" (the names/details have been changed):

"KATE"

Kate was concerned for her best friend Lucy who lived back in Spain and was into all sorts of bad things.  But Kate prayed for her and shared the gospel and eventually the L-rd worked in Lucy's heart.

In a short span of time, Lucy was transformed into a new person.  She was "on fire" for the L-rd.  So she did what any new Christian would do, she started going to church.

But church was a disappointment.  She quickly realized she wasn't being fed at church.  So she kept searching and eventually came across Messianic literature.  She suddenly felt a strong desire to keep the Torah (Shabbat, kashrut, etc).  She learned the truth about Christmas and Easter and immediately stopped celebrating them.

When Kate first heard that Lucy was celebrating Jewish observances, she was appalled.  Over time, however, curiosity got the better of Kate.  And she thought to herself, "Lucy's faith is real...is it possible that there might be something to the Torah after all?"

So she visited a Messianic synagogue and immediately her world changed.  There were signs from G-d, there was a palpable feeling of having come home.  There was also one small problem...

The rabbi taught that non-Jews didn't need to follow the Torah.

Despite this, she still loyally attends the Messianic synagogue though she harbors a secret hope that the rabbi will one day have a change of heart.  And, in the meantime, she has the One-Law fellowship so that she can be around like-minded Messianics.

REFLECTIONS

We were very blessed to meet some wonderful people at that fellowship.  It was a great time.  It's nice to see that G-d is drawing many of the peoples to keep Torah.  All these people from different countries/backgrounds reaching the same conclusion:  there are wonderful things in His Law!

I would say more but I've got to run.

Shalom and Blessings,

Peter





 



7 comments:

  1. I can certainly imagine that one enjoys a Sabbath fellowship with exclusively One-Law Messianics, and I appreciate such occasions, but nevertheless I must say that if my understanding of your account is correct, then what happened was simply not Sabbath observance.


    The Messianics assembled there were using laptops and taking notes on the Sabbath? And a projection screeen was used? Such activities are clear transgressions of the Sabbath laws and they violate the very Sabbath atmosphere.


    Another thing that struck me was the section of the schedule called "Praise and Worship" and the subsequent sermon. It is unclear to me what I have to understand by this terminology. If this was the reciting of the Minchah service, why wasn't it simply called Minchah? And if it was not, where was the Minchah service in the schedule?


    What was the reason of a lengthy sermon of an hour after the "Praise and Worship"? All this sounds more Protestant than Jewish to me. In the few orthodox synagogues I'm acquainted with there is no sermon at all, not even on Sabbath morning. This is only done occasionally, for example before important annual events, such as Pesach.


    The main purpose of the service in Judaism is not instruction of the people, it is honoring HaShem, like in the Temple. That's why we "face east". Even the Torah reading is done facing east, thus indicating that it is primary an act of adoration and only secondary an act of instruction. There's plenty occasion of study, of course, but the main purpose of the service is not instruction. The service is not man-centered, as it is in Protestantism, it is theocentric.


    I hope you are not offended by these critical comment. As I said, I certainly appreciate One-Law fellowship occasions. But my point is, why must they almost always act so un-Jewishly and why is the atmosphere of the whole thing — at least in my experience — so typical Protestant and un-Jewish?

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  2. When I see my daughter trying to imitate me, I don't focus on her mistakes; I'm just happy that she's trying. : )

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  3. The problem is you are describing a denominational practice, that being Orthodox, why does One Law have to be Orthodox?

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  4. This isn't so much about Orthodoxy as it is about applying basic biblical principles of Torah obedience and worship. "Facing East" as it is called, is one of the basic liturgical principles of Scripture. In the times of the Tabernacle and the Temple the worshippers naturally turned their faces toward the Holy Place while worshipping. The whole architecture of the Sanctuary is so deviced that the attention of all present is drawn to the same direction. In the Dedication Prayer of King Salomon the recurring refrain is "if they pray toward this place", or: "pray toward their land, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy Name" (II Chr. 6:26, 38). If the prophet Daniel obeyed this principle when praying alone (Dan. 6:10), how much more should it be obeyed in common, liturgical prayer and worship. It is thus merely a matter of Torah-based logic that the interior of a Synagogue and the manner of performing the service should mirror this model.


    This is in harmony with the christological function of NT leadership and worship. The Chazzan or any worship leader in a messianic context represents and symbolizes Messiah as leading his Assembly in the worship of the Father, in the heavenly Temple. These basic theological facts should be mirrored in the liturgy.

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  5. How liturgical a congregation chooses to be is of little concern. Despite the fact that the Bible does indeed have liturgical principals, there is also room for non liturgical principals and we see that in scripture as well. Again you are arguing for a more liturgical practice that being Orthodoxy, which some do not care for...

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  6. I completely reject that a congregation can "choose" to be liturgical or not and to what degree. The idea of congregations as quasi autonomous entities that can decide for themselves is a modern Protestant idea, without foundation in Scripture. If we can simply can choose for ourselves, then what is our choice worth? What value does it have? It is nothing more than an arbitrary opinion based on the circumstances of the day.


    The worship of HaShem is part of the very essence of the identity of the Assembly in Messiah. This worship of the Father is Messiah's own work as the Head of his Mystical Body. As members of this Body we are only his instruments. These theological realities should be reflected in our manner of congregational worship.

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  7. If we can simply can choose for ourselves, then what is our choice worth? What value does it have? It is nothing more than an arbitrary opinion based on the circumstances of the day.


    This happens whether one follows a liturgical or a non-liturgical approach... Your argument is a very old argument, which exist between Protestant and Catholicism and/or Eastern Orthodoxy, but it also exist within Judaism.


    When the Messiah comes and restores His assembly then we can start talking about a unified approach to worship and theology, but for now, whether liturgical or non-liturgical, everyone is simply picking and choosing their favorite approaches.

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