I’m in Los Angeles with a lot of leaders and potential leaders in Messianic Judaism at a forum called Hashivenu (hashivenu.org). These are Messianic Jews serious about building a Judaism. Today’s discussion has been the most exciting yet . . .
First, Rabbi Gavriel Gefen gave a paper about a new model for Messianic Judaism. His model, quote simply, is for Messianic Jews to worship in traditional synagogues (Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform) and then to gather, perhaps on Saturday evenings, for havurot (home fellowships).
Rabbi Gefen’s paper was very interesting. In my opinion, this is a model that will work for some and not for all. I do believe we need Messianic congregations with Shabbat services. Yet Gefen made an excellent point: we Messianic Jewish leaders must not turn away Jews who come to us, wishing to have a relationship with us, while attending traditional synagogues.
More interesting even than Rabbi Gefen’s paper were the two responses by emerging Messianic leaders.
I was captured by the power of the ideas of Tikkun Olam and community, which two young respondents passionately shared.
Tikkun Olam means repairing the world. It’s roots are in kabbalah, but its application is much wider. Tikkun Olam is about leaving the world better than you found it. Some encouraging applications can be seen in synagogues getting behind the effort to stop the genocide in Darfur (savedarfur.org) or getting involved in social action (feeding the poor, mentoring kids, etc.).
One respondent discussed Jewish studies which find that young Jews far more identify with Tikkun Olam than with Torah observance or synagogue attendance.
What would happen, she asked, if Messianic Jews increased our efforts to be involved in Tikkun Olam and to invite Jews in the community to participate? What would happen if our Messianic synagogues put out banners by the street advertising sites like savedarfur.org?
Another respondent shared the need for Messianic congregations to continue with an emphasis on community. The example of the book of Acts, with people selling property to help one another in need, is a powerful model demonstrating what the Messianic Jewish community has to offer. We form community in Yeshua and according to his ideals (an idea much more talked about than implemented).
I had a new paradigm opened up for me today. Understand that ideas often get bounced around, but to truly implement a Messianic Judaism that is involved in Tikkun Olam and intentional community, is radical and largely untried.
God is redeeming the world and he expects us not to sit on the sidelines. He expects us to leave the world a better place. Even if we believe that the world will not be ultimately good until the Days of Messiah, we dare not sit on our hands and tell God that the job is his. He gave it to us in Genesis 1-2 and he hasn’t hired anyone yet to replace us.