Sunday, October 28, 2012
Messianic Judiasm Review
We could only find one Messianic church in our city, so we picked a day to go. Best Friend wanted to go with us, so we were three.
I didn't have too much apprehension about going to this church because I had already been schooled in Messianic thinking for some time from books I had read and from Messianic friends. I had also attended a 10-week video course called "The Jewish Roots of Christianity" by HaYesod. But I was still curious to attend for myself, to see what it looked and felt like.
We arrived right at 9 AM to a 3-building complex (they have their own day school) and entered through the main doors where we were warmly greeted. We confessed that this was our first time and was there anything we should or shouldn't do in order not to stick out like sore thumbs. We were assured that everything would be fine, and they explained a little bit about what would happen during the service.
We entered a large, modern sanctuary with a high vaulted ceiling in the middle. We made our way about half way up and sat on the edge. Soon after, a flamboyant woman came and introduced herself, asked if she could sit with us, then then sat down in between us! That was weird. Oh well, she was nice. The sanctuary was about one-third full at the start, maybe around 150 people, and grew to about 250 over the first hour. All ages were represented, mainly white. A few men were wearing yamakas and some men and women were wearing prayer shawls.
There was lots of music. A lively band kept things moving. The band included an electric violin, which gave it a "Jewish" feel. Words were displayed on two screens at the front so it was easy to sing along. There was also a lot of prayers and scripture reading, which were displayed on the screens as well.
One of the interesting things about the singing, scriptures, and prayers was that sometimes they were in English and sometimes in Hebrew, a balance of both. The Hebrew pronunciation was always spelled out in English which was fairly easy to read or sing along with.
Another cool thing was dancing. Much of the music had a Jewish feel to it, as I mentioned, and the young ladies would go to the front corner of the sanctuary and form a dance circle. It was really fun to watch, and was not suggestive in any way. Once in a while an older man or woman would join them. It added to the sense of life and joy which permeated the whole service.
A high point of the service was when they brought the Torah scroll out of its shrine at the front and paraded it around the sanctuary. In-Between-Lady explained to us that "the Torah is the foundation of all scripture." As the Torah passed by we touched it with our Bible (or something else, like a scarf), and then kissed our Bible. This was a way to show reverence to the Torah.
At another point in the service all the congregation was invited to come stand under a makeshift tent in the front, symbolizing the tabernacle, and the Pastor prayed a blessing over us.
The sermon was thoughtful and had a lot of scripture teaching; but it was long... 45 minutes, bringing the whole service to a conclusion at 11:30. With the total length of the service at 2 1/2 hours I and Room Mate each got up once to go to the bathroom and stretch our legs, and I stood in back for awhile.
After the service In-Between-Lady talked our ears off for about 15 minutes until I finally said I had to leave to get ready for work. (It wasn't true, but I was literally starving, not having eaten anything yet that day!)
Upon reflection, I would recommend this church to any Christian who wanted to consider taking the Torah seriously in their life; or to any Jew who wanted a church that felt familiar, and yet was open to looking at the Jesus-as-Messiah proposition. It appeared to be a good, solid, well-run, joyful and alive church.