Members of our congregation have attended the Sabbath services and Torah study at synagogues here in the St. Louis area. I have tried to keep my hand in on occasion too, and my students all attend at least one Sabbath service at an orthodox synagogue close to the office here. We attend to keep or make connections in the Jewish community, and to learn about what is going on in the area. Also there is great blessing to observing orthodox services, the reverence that some still have for the Word. But there is a sadness that overwhelms when you realize that this community sees God through a glass more darkly than even we (1 Cor. 13). Other faith traditions are so far away from God that it is easier to talk to them, but our Jewish friends are so close, yet still so blind to the truth.
Many argue about truth. Today some opine for truths that are relative to individuals as we’re all familiar now with the arguments of “post-moderns,” a phrase that is itself now “post.” Our President, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast likened truth to faith as he urged us to not be “so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.” And our Jewish friends are no stranger to this popular notion of truth.
This month in the St. Louis Jewish Light, it was reported that a couple from St. Louis were awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for the Advancement of Inter-Religious Understanding by the province of Manitoba. The wife of the couple was quoted as remarking “Around our Pesach table, we had clergy of all faiths–yogis, gurus, Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, nuns. Our kids just grew up that way. We’ve always had an open door policy.” And their kids have grown up.
Their son is the rabbi of a congregation that one of our members attends. Once upon receiving a “Jewish New Testament” from our member, he remarked that he was willing to take this, but that this man was not to share anything about Jesus with the members of his congregation. Even having grown up with this open door policy, he was still wary about someone else’s truth.
What makes Jesus so scary? Because He is the truth. And to truly come face-to-face with Him means that our notions of what is acceptable in our society must come into question. And shouldn’t it? January saw the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the massacre in France at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Atrocities are the way of our world. Jesus is it’s only hope. This month, for Tu B’Shvat (the new year for trees), plant a tree in Israel (www.treesfortheholyland.com)(a symbol of hope) for a Jewish friend, and plant the truth in their heart about Jesus, their only hope.
(For more on this illustration, see my blog entry for January 5, 2015.)