One of the biggest struggles that Messianic Jews have is their balance between Traditional Judaism and Christianity. Both sides criticize the way Messianic congregations near me conduct their services. Some Jews feel that they are too Christian, and some Christians feel that they are not Christian enough. It is a tough spot to be in, but through their convictions, they stick to the relationship with G-d that they feel led they should have.
Messianic Congregations Near Me: Sabbat
Ever since the second century, the Christian church met on Sundays. This was a drastic change from the Biblical account of the Sabbath. G-d instituted the Sabbath at creation. A day of rest on the last day of the week, when all the work was completed. But why the change?
What is the Sabbat? – The Sabbat, or Sabbath, is the day that G-d set aside, calling it holy in the creation account. It is later established through the Mosaic Covenant. It is from sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday evening, according to the Hebraic calendar with the day ending at sundown, not midnight. This was observed until the early second century.
What is the difference? – In the early second century, Christians were meeting on the first day of the week, Sunday, to celebrate the Sabbath. This stemmed not from a scriptural change, but a preference. After the failure of the second Jewish revolt, many Gentile Christians wanted to disassociate from Judaism, so they began meeting on the first day of the week. This decision was due to Yeshua’s resurrection being on the first day of the week, and many believe that the day of Pentecost occurred on the first day of the week. Both events led the church to meet on Sundays, and eventually, the observance of the Sabbat was unintentionally converted to the first day of the week.
However, at Messianic congregations near me, Messianic Jews still adhere to the observance of the Sabbat on Friday evenings and Saturdays. This retention of Jewish tradition gives them an open the door to properly witness to those who follow Traditional Judaism.
Messianic Congregations Near Me: Festivals
In addition to the Sabbat, Messianic congregations near me celebrate the Traditional Jewish feasts and festivals.
- Passover – The celebration is commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt. It is an eight-day festival. One of the customs is to avoid any bread that contained leaven. The term Passover derives from the final plague sent upon Egypt, the death angel. To spare them from this plague, the Israelites would sacrifice a clean lamb and place the blood on the doorposts. This sign would enable G-d’s protection from the passing angel of death.
- Purim – Celebration of the deliverance from the hands of Haman as told in the Book of Esther. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, had refused to bow down to one of the king’s advisors, Haman. Haman plotted to exterminate all the Jews for his insolence. Esther was part of the king of Persia’s harem. She became popular to the point of becoming queen. Then, Esther exposed Haman’s plot and the Jewish people overcame Haman’s plan.
- Chanukah – While not one of the most important of holidays, as it is outlined in the book of Maccabees. Jews do not consider scriptural. However, it is observed by some in the Jewish community, like Messianic congregations near me. Jews celebrate around the time of the Christian holiday of Christmas. It is a celebration of rebirth, commemorating the rededication of the temple after Jews succeeded in a revolt against the Seleucid Greeks. The recognizable tradition is that of the menorah. The nine-pronged candelabra is lit each night for eight days.
- Rosh Hashana – The Jewish new year. It is a bit confusing as it usually occurs in the traditional calendar month of September. However, on the Jewish calendar, their year number advances during this holiday. This year, 2019, is 5780 on the Jewish calendar. It is a time, much like the traditional New Year, of retrospection and making choices to better one’s life. Some customs are a Sabbath day, visiting Messianic congregations near me, the blowing of a trumpet, and other culinary traditions.
- Yom Kippur – is the Day of Atonement. A day to consider and atone for the sins of the past year. The day is a Sabbath day, accompanied by a 25-hr fast. No food or drink is consumed. There are some exemptions like small children, pregnancy, and those with medical conditions. Parishioners, like those in Messianic congregations near me, spend the day in a synagogue listening to scripture and singing traditional liturgies, with a break for an afternoon nap.
It is important to note that Messianic Jews do not celebrate traditional Christmas or Easter. Primarily since both days coincide with pagan holidays. For the most part, they include those holidays within existing festivals. The resurrection of Yeshua is celebrated at the beginning of the Passover feast. And some say that Chanukah is similar to the Christmas holiday.
Messianic Congregations Near Me: Fellowship
When in a synagogue and worshipping with Messianic congregations near me, you can expect a different experience than in a contemporary Christian atmosphere.
- The Torah – While reading scripture is solely in the Torah, the book of the Law. The speaker reads from a scroll that he removes from a cabinet called the Aron Kodesh.
- New Testament – Messianic Jews believe the Gospels are G-d inspired and hold to their teaching, but they are not openly read within the synagogue. Keeping with traditional Jewish customs allows them to minister to the Traditional Jewish visitor.
- Worship – Messianic congregations near me maintain a more Jewish style form of worship. They include the liturgies and celebration songs with each holiday and festival.
While it is an exciting experience, there is certain etiquette that one should follow when visiting Messianic congregations near me. You must know what to expect so you can be active without inadvertently offending anyone.