|Our Table on the 4th Night of Chanukah, Second Week of Advent|
I wrapped my hands around the cup of hot tea and closed my eyes. Just briefly. And in those few seconds with my eyes closed, I smiled. Guitars and voices filled the room with music. This has always been where I feel peaceful: surrounded by people I love and the sound of music. We had already lit the Shabbat candles, stood under the tallit to be blessed, heard the sound of the shofar, and enjoyed our meal and Torah discussion together. Now the children screamed happily in the basement, the baby passed from one family member to another, we chatted and sipped hot tea.
These are the other pilgrims on our journey. They believe Jesus, and they believe in the importance of honoring the Jewish history of Jesus. They believe in the importance of traditions, rituals, within our families and among fellow pilgrims - not in following traditions in a legalistic way, but in enjoying tradition, honoring it, and letting it point us to Jesus.
We first met with them six weeks ago. Six weeks ago I realized that we found the place where we belong. It isn't the Western church. It isn't church in any traditional sense at all. It is church in its truest incarnation - people who are bound together by the love of Jesus and who serve God and serve each other in a way that draws others to God. No judgment regarding various traditions, just fellowship and study in the presence of other believers.
The Messianic tradition is something that has interested me for a long time. Mango & I attended a few different Messianic congregations while we were looking for a church in our early marriage. My favorite Mama message board (Gentle Christian Mothers) has a large contingent of people who participate in Jewish/Biblical holidays and traditions (whether they are Jewish by birth or not). Then, a few years back, I met a wonderful woman who became one of my dearest friends, and her husband began a ministry organization called Hebrew For Christians. A few months ago they invited us to join them for their Shabbat meal and Torah study. I cannot begin to tell you how rightly this fits our family and our faith. When most people think of the roots of Christianity, they think of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Later, we think of Martin Luther and Charles Wesley. The Messianic movement takes church history all the way back to its roots - the Hebrew people, the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the rituals and traditions instituted by God for the benefit of the people of God, the Jewish people.