Last weekend in Philly, Nancy and I had the opportunity to visit Beth Yeshua, a Messianic Jewish temple. Our friend Terri Gillespie invited us, and we were so thrilled to go. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew a couple of things going in–first of all, God has not abandoned his chosen people. Second, Scripture says that whomever blesses the Jews will be blessed by God. And third, I was raised in a church where that latter precept was practiced–I remember our church handbell choir playing for a reformed Synagogue on a Friday night–simply to bless them with beautiful music.
Anyway, we walked into the synagogue on Friday night and were warmly greeted even though the service had already begun. Up front, a married couple was reciting the Sabbath prayers–the woman lit the candles (lovely, isn’t it, that the woman ushers in the Light of the World?), and then the man recited the prayers, broke the bread, and shared the cup with his wife.
And then the praise music began–and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it, and yes, I’ve been to charismatic churches. Not only did they sing with great fervor and praise, but women and men came forward to dance in the open space. A lovely circular dance that looked sort of like a grapevine that included frequent raising of the hands to heaven–hard to describe, but it was lovely. Several times I had to stop singing and bite my lip just to keep from bursting into tears. I might have allowed myself to weep, but we were on the front row AND I knew I didn’t have a single tissue in my purse. Note to self–next time, pack a box of Kleenex.
Terri summed up the feeling for me after the service. She spoke of her first worship experience and said it seemed to her that this is what worship in heaven would be like–all of us, Jew and Gentile, combining our worship styles of song and dance in praise to the Lord Jesus, Yeshua, our King. Amen, Terri. That’s exactly what it was like.
I wish you all could have been there. I’m still processing my thoughts and feelings, but I’m sure they will bubble up in a story to come . . . and soon.