Dispatches from the Mashiachsphere–February 22, 2015

A few links of what’s going on in Messianic Jewish cyberspace and beyond.

  • Richard Harvey reminds us that today (February 22) is the Feast of Martyrdom of Polycarp, an important figure in the early church, a “messianic gentile” in certain ways, though regrettably, one of the last prominent ones for a few thousand years.
  • In what promises to a completely benign event that will absolutely not stir up any controversy with anyone at all, Mark Kinzer is coming out with a new book, Searching Her Own Mystery, on Catholicism and its relations with Judaism and Messianic Judaism.  You can put me in the camp of MJs who are very much opposed to Catholicism in general, but being somewhat familiar with the recent dialogue which has been going on between MJ and Catholic leadership, I’m encouraged that it’s healthy for both parties and there should by no means be cause for concern that we’re being led down some “road to Babylon”.  Catholics are people who love Yeshua, and MJs are well situated to show them more about Yeshua.  I look forward to reading his book.
  • Jacob Prasch recently did a weekend sermon series at Fellowship Bible Chapel in Columbus, OH.  The series had quite a bit new content and teaching, with lots of discussion on a Pre-trib vs. Pre-wrath view of the rapture (yes, there is a difference) in light of his very good new book Harpazo: The Intra-Seal Rapture of the Church.  No word yet on his book about Catholic-Jewish ecumenical dialogue. 
  • Rabbi Paul Saarecently updated his blog after a two-month hiatus with a d’rash on Parshah Terumah dealing with the altar before the tabernacle and its message for us today.
  • Rabbi Joshua Brumbach on Parshah Mishpatim: To G-d, there is no separate realm between ritual and spiritual matters (unlike within Western thought which separates the two). All areas of life are intertwined and holiness potentially binds them together. According to the Torah, concern for justice is a concern for the Holy. Holiness is not some mystical, esoteric state of being. Rather, it is a way of life and a pattern of action.”
  • An interesting and somewhat troubling news article on a Messianic synagogue in Pensacola, FL trying to raise $750,000 to secure its building (via Messianic Times).  Brit Ahm Synagogue leases their building from the local Catholic Diocese, the Diocese is now about to sell the property to a developer, and once that goes through, Brit Ahm will have to match the offer or find another place to worship.  I say that it’s interesting because they are attempting to use crowdsourcing to raise the money, specifically via a gofundme fund-raising campaign.  I say that it’s troubling because, after a few weeks and as of this writing, they have not been able to raise even 2% of the amount they need.  This instance may indicate a weakness in the Messianic Jewish movement’s ability as a whole to raise large amounts of capital for big needs or elicit broad-based support for individual causes when need be.  Brit Ahm’s campaign campaign is still ongoing, and you can donate if you feel led, but I don’t know enough about this synagogue to feel confident in donating money to them.  Therein lies the problem.
  •   A good sermon by David Wein on biblical conflict resolution, with this gem 

“Shalom, harmony, reconciliation . . . it’s very easy if you’re the only one around.  But we’re not designed for isolation . . . . We’re designed for relationship, relating to others in a community.  Genesis 2:18 says “it is not good for man to be alone.” Now, this is the first time in the Torah that something is “not good” or “lo tov“.  Everything else is good (“tov”) up until this point.  God created the light; that was good: “ki tov”.  The Earth and the Seas were good: “ki tov”.  The sun and the moon: “ki tov”. The creatures in the land, sea and air . . . about all of the creation in a summary of Genesis 1, God said “Hinei tov meod” “Behold, it was very good” But here in chapter 2, for the first time, God says, “lo tov.”  These are two very power words when contrasted with the goodness of creation. What’s not good?  It’s not good for man to be alone.  Isolation, disunity, lack of community, absence of fellowship . . . “lo tov heyot ha’adam levado”  “It is not good for Adam, or anyone, to be alone.” So we see we are designed to be bound together, and the answer to peace is not isolation, but relationship.

  • James Pyles has an intriguing couple of posts on themes of isolation tied into discussion of the present state and future trends of American diaspora Judaism in general and Messianic Judaism in particular.  I don’t have much in way of response except just to encourage everyone avoid pessimism and agonizing over identity issues.  Pyles does point out one important trend that tends to be overlooked: that the future of American Judaism is looking very Orthodox (note the mention of Yitta Schwartz [z”lwho, in biblical matriarch fashion, passed away five years ago with over 2000 living descendants at the time). There’s an increasingly urgent missiological question about how MJ–such as its composed of now–will relate to this very large new generation of Orthodox Jews coming down the pike.
  • Rabbi Derek Leman’s Blog recently got a makeover, both in appearance and content: “My philosophy about things like arguing with commenters has changed. Hopefully I’ve gained knowledge and experience. . . . I’m going to stay away from the negative and focus on the positive. If I argue against a kind of belief or practice or group or personality, I’ll be nicer about it.”  He also laments that “not much MJ blogging is happening compared to yesteryear”, something which I hope to change here at The Afikomen Project. 

Speaking of which, if you have any good MJ related articles or web content, feel free to update me.  Shavua tov 🙂

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