Saturday, October 8, 2016

Meeting My Messiah

          It was appropriate that I met Anne on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Anne is Jewish and grew up going to synagogue on Long Island, New York. She remembers walking many miles in her dress shoes to get to the synagogue, because her parents did not drive on the Holy Days. She remembers sitting beside her father, who wore a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, and playing with the tzitzit, the tassels attached to the prayer shawl. Her grandmother took her family to Israel when Anne was 16. It was very meaningful to her and solidified her strong sense of who she was as a Jew.

          She went to Hebrew school and learned to read and write Hebrew. She inherited her family’s Passover Seder plate, which was passed down from generation to generation by those who fled Europe. She enjoyed her heritage and kept the Holy Days and traditions. In fact, her cousins called her a Super Jew.

          In her 20’s and 30’s, she started to sense an emptiness. She was confused and started looking into other religions, Buddhism, new age, spiritualism. She looked into everything except Christianity. Christianity was taboo. The only Christians she knew were Irish and Italian Catholics from her neighborhood. They were steeped in their religion as much as she was in hers.

          During this time she was searching for something, but she didn’t know what it was. She read many self-help books, and took classes that explored self and spirituality. She married a Jewish man and together they attended a more egalitarian synagogue. It was more contemporary than the one she grew up in. Women were allowed to participate more and share some of the elements during the worship. Even though she was still very Jewish in her heart, she felt as if something were missing.

          After moving to Albuquerque, she attended synagogue with her husband and family, but was still on a personal journey searching for what was missing in her life. One day as she was driving, she stumbled upon a Christian radio station. A Jewish Rabbi was talking about his relationship with Jesus. She pulled the car over so she could hear his whole story. It was fascinating. She had never heard anything like it.

          About this time, she was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room. She knew the main doctor was Jewish because of his last name, but the waiting room was filled with Christian books and magazines. They also had Christian music playing. There was a Bible in the waiting room and she was curious about what was in it. Even though her daughter thought it was stealing, Anne thought the doctor would not mind if she took the Bible home.

         When she was at home, she opened the Bible to the first page of the New Testament. As she started reading, she could not believe it! It was the genealogy of Jesus starting with Abraham.

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob, Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers  . . .”   Matthew 1:1-2

         She knew those names! And the stories that went with them! She wept to see Jesus in the long line of her Jewish ancestors. As she read more, she was fascinated to find out that all of Jesus’s followers and his disciples were Jewish! The first church was Jewish and Jesus and his followers kept the Holy Days and went to synagogue.

        Shortly after this, her friend, Roxanne, invited her to church. When the preacher finished the sermon, he asked if anyone would like to give their life to Jesus, would they raise their hand. There were a thousand people in the church and Anne, who was shy and did not like having the attention on her, could not help herself this time. Her hand went up in the air. The Pastor called the people who raised their hands to walk down the long aisle to the front of the church so he could pray for them. Anne was one of three people. As Anne started to walk down, her friend came with her, and whispered to her, “I’m coming with you in case you faint.”

Photo by Jeff Drake
        Later she met with a staff member at the church who was a Jewish believer. He could relate to her angst about even walking into the church. The man gave her two books, A Case For Christ and The Complete Jewish Bible. She read both. The Bible did not have a divider between the Old and New Testaments. It continued to use the Jewish names for Jesus and his disciples. It was a smooth transition, and made the book one story, not two separate parts.

        Soon she met a Women’s Ministry leader, Karen, who agreed to teach Anne the basics of Christianity. She met with Karen every week for over a year, asking many questions and reading everything she could on the subject. Karen invited Anne to her church and she was pleased when she found out the Pastor there studied Messianic Judaism and had been to Israel many times. It made for a smooth welcoming for her.

       Since that time, she took the huge step and was baptized at her new church. She said before she felt lost, confused and empty in her life. Now she feels like a complete Jew. She realized Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) was who she was looking for all along. She has more purpose in her life. She no longer has to search for meaning in new age and self-help books. Her life makes sense now. Instead of searching, she prays and looks to the scripture for her answers.

                          She is still Jewish, only now she is complete in Yeshua.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”  Romans 1:16

 If you would like to read more from this series, 31 Days of Change, click here.

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