Sunday, September 23, 2007

got church?

I went to church today. It's sunday, so that's not abnormal, but today was different. You see I love church, I spend my whole week waiting for sunday to come and for my chance to go into the church building, see those faces I love, sing songs that lift my spirit, and be a part of that larger theoretical Body of Christ in its very real form. I love sundays. I love the sleeping in on Sundays. I love the slowness of Sundays. I love the whole idea of Sundays. The last few months have been different though. Traveling through Israel and India made my Sunday traditions dissapear (especially in Israel which starts it week on Sunday the way we start on Monday) and although I have visited a few churches, I have not felt that sunday feeling. Today I felt it. I visited a church today, a church plant of Redeemer in NY. And it was amazing. The liturgy was just right. Traditional yet personal. The music was beautiful, hymns with a jazz twist. And the sermon, oh the sermon was so good. Biblical, intellectually stimulating, and most importantly formed on the redemptive narrative of the Bible. Okay, before I gush any further, I'll leave you with this: My traveling and craziness is over. And I am already looking forward to worshiping next sunday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Por fin, more to come!

Okay okay okay. I'm back. It's been a long time and actually I will be shocked if anyone still checks this blog anymore. But in anycase, here I am. Hineni. It has been quite a long trip. I will try to give an overview and update on what is going on now.
Israel: We arrived in Israel on the 28th and the next day i celebrated my 24th birthday. I spent the day walking around Tel Aviv, finding an ADORABLE artesian street market. I bought some fresh fruit from the shook (hebrew for market) and just enjoyed the special day. It was actually probably one of my favorite birthdays, alone with the Lord in a beautiful location. Good stuff. Our time in Israel was divided up between classes, fieldtrips all over Israel, and of course evangelism.
Classes: We too classes twice a day for 2-3 hours each class. Our hebrew classes were interesting but I have to admit that I didn't learn as much as I had hoped to. But I made the goal that I wanted to read and write in the modern hebrew handwriting, and I accomplished at least that. I also think I learned more than I give myself credit for since I was able to understand the majority of the conversations that I heard Israelis have. We also took classes from David Mishkin, a scholar who has written a great book on the Gospel of John and how it points to Christ as the messiah. His classes were a little more intense than the others and I love them. We took a few classes on Israel's history and Judaism, which honestly were probably the most controversial of all the classes. We sat in classes with some of the leaders of messianic judaism in Israel, and they provoked some interesting conversations about what it means to be a Jew. And I have to admit that I went into this whole conversation pretty liberal and I left liberal. Honestly, I got a lot of crap from people there about calling myself a Christian instead of a messianic Jew and even found myself on the verge of denying all Jewishness just for the sake of not dealing with the crap. Gentile Christians have it much easier in Israel. No one expects them to be faithful to the Messianic Jewish tradition. But I never seemed to celebrate enough holidays, or keep kosher enough to satisfy the people I met. Interestingly, the non messianic jews never bothered me for not keeping the holidays. After a conversation with a few Israelis who really pounced on me for calling myself Christian and not Messianic Jew, I went to bed and just prayed that the Lord would clear this whole situation up. How Jewish do I have to be? Does it matter? My mom, who is Jewish by heritage doesn't keep the holidays. She doesn't keep kosher. Why should I have to fulfill all these requirements for being Jewish when I have Christ? So I came to a conclusion: I have always decided what holidays to celebrate, what parts of the tradition I liked and wanted to implement into my life, and that had worked for me for te last 24 years. I decided that I would not change that. I am Jewish. Not because I follow a list of rules, but just because I am. I like hosting Passover Seders and I hope someday to have some type of Sabbath dinners with my family. If people want to say that it means that I am not Jewish enough, oh well. Who cares what they think anyways. I don't have to prove my Jewishness to anyone. I just am Jewish.
So Israel was interesting. I am now appreciating my time there more. Now that I am in seminary and dealing with biblical texts, I find the resources that I gained there to be invaluable. The Western Wall, the ancient ruins, the whole terrain that runs along the Mediterrain coast.
India: Wow, I have been claiming to be in love with Chile for quite sometime now. When I arrive in India, I found myself confessing to a friend that I might have a little love affair with India, just don't tell Chile! I loved India. I loved the land, the people, the food, and most of all the colors that you experienced there. Everyone wore such beautiful beautiful clothing!