Before 52 Churches, we visited a Messianic Jewish church: Jews who believe in Jesus as their Jewish savior, mixing Jewish tradition with Christian faith.
They met on Saturday nights. The service involved a time of worship and a time of teaching. They concluded with a shared meal.
Most of the service was in English, but a few parts of worship were in Hebrew. I mumbled the words the best I could, but I had no idea if my fellow worshipers pronounced their Hebrew words correctly or not.
Their hymnals were in both Hebrew and English. As I recall, page one was at the back. For their meal, shared potluck style, they provided food with a Jewish flair. I don’t know how authentic or Americanized these dishes were, but they were tasty.
The friendly people there embraced us. They welcomed us. We felt like family from the beginning.
Worshiping God in an unfamiliar way brought a freshness, an authenticity to our efforts. Their unfamiliar traditions occasionally confused me, but I also felt strangely invigorated by what we did.
They didn’t have their own building, but they did have their own worship space. It was in the basement of a Protestant church. This was ideal, since neither group used the facility at the same time.
There were two interesting things about this congregation. First, everyone there was Gentile. That is, they weren’t Jewish. It seems strange to me that a Messianic Jewish church wouldn’t have some Jewish people attending it.
When I asked about this, someone explained that sometimes a Jewish family did drive from another city to meet with them, but this didn’t occur every week.
The other interesting thing is most of the people present at this Saturday evening Messianic Jewish gathering also attend a Protestant service on Sunday morning. This perplexed me. This is, however, exactly what Candy and I did.
That was many years ago, but the experience stayed with me, and I want to encounter it again. When we embarked upon our 52 Churches journey, I desired to include this church and make a repeat visit. Unfortunately, they no longer met at the same place.
Instead their location rotated between the homes of their regular attendees. Revisiting them wasn’t going to work for 52 Churches. And though I would’ve liked to have returned later, we never got around to it.
There’s another Messianic Jewish congregation near where we live. It’s a thirty-five-minute drive, not close but not insurmountable either. I want to visit them and compare their practices with my recollection of the first Messianic Jewish congregation.
I want to go. We could go. But we don’t.
I guess I’m tired of visiting churches.
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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.