Archive for January, 2014

23
Jan
14

Messianic Jewish Imagination 3

A Messianic Jewish Imagination is the way we think teach and describe the ideal messianic Jewish experience. I have borrowed the term “imagination” from Walter Brueggemann who uses this word to describe the way clergy should communicate the alternative reality of the Good News. He describes preaching as “…the ready, steady, surprising proposal that in the real world in which God invites us to live is not the one made available by the rulers of this age.” (Finally Comes The Poet p.3)

A few  years ago I wrote several posts about the Messianic Jewish Imagination  as applied in general to the Messianic Jewish Movement. In fact i began the second installment with the paragraph above. But over the past year or more I have been thinking much about where we are going as a local congregation. Recently I attended the UMJC mid year Leadership meeting and we were asked to write a brief paragraph called “My Dream Congregation”.    I suppose another way of saying “dream Congregation” could be messianic Jewish Imagination.  Here is what I wrote:

A Jewish community in which people, young and old,  who identify with our values experience dynamic relationship, intellectual stimulation, vitality, acceptance, spiritual growth and delight centered in Messiah Yeshua.

This is not a statement that we as a congregation have adopted but it is what I see as the place we  want to be continually moving toward.  It is a type of Jewish community that i would not call traditional but rather progressive in the sense that we uphold faith in Yeshua the Messiah and are inclusive of Gentiles yet valuing Jewish tradition, worship and  concerns – a way of life.  We could call it an alternative way of life. It is a life that is counter to the culture in which we live. It is a life of radical love and radical sevanthood. It is a life that is shared with others that gives us a glimpse of the future.

This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, is helpful in this brief discussion because it describes this way of life.  It is about living in community in such a way that demonstrates devotion to the God of Israel, dignity to people, kindness and benevolence; righteousness and justice. The values that lie behind these laws are the values that we esteem.

Yeshua shared this  vision when he said “Behold the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”  My hope is that by living according to our values that we will continually move forward toward the goal. As we move toward that goal may we  be a living example of Messiah Yeshua and the age to come.

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16
Jan
14

Tu B’Shevat

This week is tu b’Shevat.  Literally it means the “15th day of the hebrew month  of Shevat.” Since mishanic times it has had a variety of meanings. According to the Mishna it commemorates the new year for trees – the time that a tithe would be calculated for the fruit of trees.  The kabbalists instituted the tradition of a Seder to commemorate Tu b’shevat.  In modern times,   the establishment of the State of Israel emphasized Tu B’shevat as a time to plant trees in Israel. More recently, Tu B’shevat has evolved into an ecological holiday when we enjoy the fruit of the land,  and remember our responsibility to be stewards of the environment. 

 

Our role as stewards of the earth is part of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God.  In the beginning of Genesis we read  Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (Gen 2:15 NAU)  To “cultivate” it is to work the land and to “keep” it is to protect the land.  This is an exalted position!  In psalm 8 we read What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?

 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, (Psa 8:4-6 NAU)  While the psalm describes the exalted position of mankind, the text is quoted in the New Covenant to describe that greatest man of all and that is Yeshua the Messiah.  As a result of his resurrection from the dead there will be the reality of the messianic kingdom in its fullness when the trees of the field will clap their hands and all of creation will bring glory to God and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  

 

On Tu B’Shevat may we remember our calling to care for this world and may it be a reminder of the redemption of this world that is to come!