Is Christ still attending Synagogue?

After more than 2,000 years of evolved Christian tradition, a modern believer might think the synagogue an unlikely place to find Jesus today. Oh sure, scripture tells us that Jesus regularly attended synagogue in His early youth and then later during His public ministry.   Scripture reveals that Jesus was an observant Jew throughout His mortal life. In Luke 16, Jesus gives a sense of the importance of the Law and the Prophets, proclaiming, “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law (given Moses).” One of His last acts was to gather with His disciples to celebrate the Passover meal. He did not deny His Jewish status before Pilate.

Knowing that Christ was a Jew to the end – and recalling tidbits of cultural wisdom, such as “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and “if you want to know the woman you’re marrying, look at her mother” – didn’t stop me from being surprised by the palpable sense of Christ’s presence at Congregation Beth Torah during my first worship experience with a Jewish congregation. It was the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) service, the highest Holy Day in Jewish tradition. Christ’s presence was revealed to me in many ways – the hospitality of a Jewish client who invited me to be her guest at the worship, the welcoming spirit extended by Israel’s children to the somewhat anxious gentile stranger in their midst, the beautiful and perceptibly sacred music with lyrics in unfamiliar language, the reverence accorded God’s word in the handling of the Torah, the soulful prayers and confessions offered up by the Rabbi in Hebrew and responded to in unison by the congregants. I found Christ’s Good News in beautiful literature – usually read aloud together, occasionally read individually in reflective silence. Common themes in the readings familiar to Christians included – forgiveness of sins, living faithfully, accepting moral responsibility, receiving and sharing God’s love with others, practicing justice, living according to God’s law passed down through Moses, heeding the words of the prophets, and hope. I heard John the Baptist’s call to repent and Jesus tweaking of religious hypocrisy along with His call to walk in God’s light and love.

So what are the takeaways from a somewhat serendipitous journey to the synagogue? God’s love in Jesus Christ is universal. It is everywhere – even the least likely of places. God’s truth is not exclusive to any one religion. Going outside one’s comfort zone to see how others live their secular or religious lives can result in rich blessings and new wisdom. If you really want to know the Christ, try tapping into His Jewish roots.

 

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