Fine Kineti readers, I experienced a beautiful, rare moment of Messianic unity in Minnesota recently. You won’t believe the results.
Messianic musician Micha'el Ben David visited us here in Minnesota last week; our congregation hosted him for a shabbat, and we arranged for him to play at several of the Messianic and Hebrew Roots congregations during his time here.
Through his stay, things started to get interesting.
Myself and some Messianic friends held a cross-congregational Messianic music jam + picnic + BBQ and invited Messianic, Hebrew Roots, and Christian folks from all over the Twin Cities. (Even those congregations that don’t like us for theological reasons! Ha!)
The little event was: Music for Messiah (bring your own guitar sort of thing). Getting to know folks from other congregations. Food and fellowship.
And rare; Messianic and Hebrew Roots congregations up here have been rather cold shoulder, suspicious of one another, stand-offish, for years now.
(Yes, we had an accordion…and it was awesome!)
Lot of fun.
But later that week, the pot was stirred unlike anything in recent memory.
A few of us had the idea of having Micha’el play at…ahem…a Lutheran Church.
Would it be _possible_ for Messianics and Hebrew Roots folks to get together with Lutheran Christians, set aside differences and worship God together? We’re always fighting about relevance of Torah, makeup of God’s people, Israel, the role of gentiles, ad nauseam…
I had an insider, so to speak: a scholarly Hebrew Roots teacher (rare, I know!) was connected with the church in question, a man by the name of John Ferret of Light of Menorah ministries. I reached out to John, who then reached out to the Lutheran Pastor, Tom Gillman.
Suddenly, this thing ballooned.
Now we’ve got Messianic Jewish leaders, multiple Hebrew Roots congregations, a prestigious Jewish Christian organization, and one Lutheran church all converging together.
There were several hurdles to making the event happen. Some Christian people objected that Torah would be taught. Ahem. Others to the very idea of Jewish music. Others were concerned about fraternizing with people of different beliefs. Still others held back because of tired, old Messianic Jewish-Hebrew Roots divisions (truly, Messianic Judaism needs tikkun in this area.)
In spite of all these hurdles, somehow it all came together. There I was, entering this Lutheran Church with Micha’el Ben David, about to sing Messiah and Torah songs to Lutherans, Hebrew Roots folks, Messianic Judaism folks, Jewish Christians.
I snapped this photo from the stage as we arrived an hour before anyone else:
(The church is actually larger than the photo seems; the pews spread out in wings on the left and right.)
As folks filed in, Micha’el, myself, and 2 other musicians from another Hebrew Roots congregation got on stage to play.
Before we began, all of the leaders – Messianic Jewish, Hebrew Roots, Jewish Christian, Lutheran – laid our arms around each other and prayed. Micha’el prayed that the message of Messiah and Torah would go out to the audience.
We took the stage, and started singing songs of Zion right there to the predominantly Lutheran audience. HaTikva, Psalm 137 (“If I forget you, Yerushalayim…”). Hebrew and English.
(Lutherans singing Hebrew songs of Zion - has this ever happened before? Ha!)
We sang songs of Torah, like Psalm 119 (“How I love your Torah…”)
We sang songs of Messiah, like Isaiah 52 (“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, proclaims shalom, announces salvation/y’shua.”)
Zion, Torah, Messiah.
That’s our focus, folks, and that was our focus that night. We played for a solid hour or two singing the songs of Zion to Minnesota Lutherans, Jewish Christians, Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots folks.
It was really unlike any time I’ve experienced; the unity, the singing with one voice to God. Total joy in it. Setting aside the minor religious disagreements and just amplifying God.
This was huge, and it was unlike anything I’ve experienced in recent memory. I had a huge grin on my face as we wrapped up, blessing each other as we departed.
Afterwards, we were greeted by folks like Rabbi Ed Rothman, leader of the oldest Messianic Jewish congregation in the United States. He and his wife were in the audience praising with us. He wants to host Micha’el next year at his congregation.
We were approached by Trevor Rubenstein of the prestigious Good News For Israel Jewish missions organization. We spoke at length about our common love of apologetics, admiration for Dr. Michael Brown, and more. He wants to have lunch with me this month.
I spoke with people from several Messianic congregations – including some folks from that one congregation that avoids us! – and it was mutual blessing all around.
We spoke with “Da Rev” John Ferret, the Hebrew Roots teacher who enabled the whole thing. He texted me the next day,
Shalom, chaver tov b’Yeshua! I am still basking in the glow of HaShem’s pleasure he poured on all of us...”
And we spoke with the kind Lutheran Pastor Tom Gillman. He told me he and his church were blessed by the whole event and that their desire is to bless the people of Israel continually.
We need more Tom Gillmans in Christianity.
I see all the fighting and bickering and censorship and political jockeying among Messianic ministries. You’ve probably seen it too on the blogs or on Facebook. Sometimes I am discouraged by that.
But for once, on this one night, the opposite happened. Unity among Messiah’s flock. Praising God together with one voice. And, like my new friend Rev. Ferret, I’m basking in the glow of what happened that night among Minnesota’s believers.