Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
INDEED! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
You all likely recognize by now the Resurrection morning greeting used by our Russian brethren throughout the years, to which we can all say, “AMEN!”
And thus I greet you all this morning, a morning that the Resurrection is recognized in much of the world even today [“right day” or not is irrelevant as some may take notice and turn to Him somewhere] though the world grows darker. May the light of the Resurrected Messiah grow ever lighter in us and lead us through, baring much fruit, to a triumphant morning in the near future. May His peace be deep in each of us today.
Often during the years we have lived here, my husband and I have gone to the sunrise service at the garden tomb, the place most likely the tomb where Yeshua’s flesh was placed but He didn’t stay for very long. It is an international event as the garden, normally a peaceful and contemplative place, is jammed with tourists, representing 60-70 countries.
For many of them, this moment is a spiritual mountaintop and the service is a gift to them. For me, it’s a time to be with my husband who doesn’t usually choose to be in fellowship at this point, but it is also a blessing and a privilege. Although at times a bit surreal, as we move out into our normal day, riding the train filled with workers for 15 minutes to the next neighborhood and then entering a place of wonder, surrounded by flashing cameras and ipads held high above heads to film it all. (It is available on the web here.)
Then it’s back out into the hustle and bustle of the tension filled streets.
I wasn’t going to mention this journey as over the years it has joined many holidays in becoming sadly divisive, but something happened last night that riveted my attention in a sort of parable.
It got me thinking about this journey that I’ve been on for the past 70 years now, 41 with Him.
As I thought about what I was going to write and how to write it today, I looked back and found myself chuckling. I thought about my most memorable sunrise services:
Back in 1975 when I met Him and the FACT that His rising from the dead meant total deliverance for me and “whosoever will”, broke my chains and released me from painful bondage, and even conquered death…why…who could take it all in. I found that the date I had avoided as a kid. The date that “they” (the gentiles) had painted eggs and celebrated rabbits (I figured), the date that gentiles wore hats and new outfits and had parades was REALLY supposed to be a day to remember the greatest moment in history. The rending of the veil between life and death, the conquering of death, sin and the grave and the setting of the captives free. Oh what GLORY! AND [on top of that] there was this thing called a “sunrise service” where we could go and worship together. I thought that I might be translated I was so joyful!
I found an announcement of a Sunrise Service at a Sacramento Drive-in Church, to be held at a drive-in movie theater. I couldn’t sleep because of my excitement and stayed awake, praying all night, preparing myself. At about 3 a.m. this newly born again now ex-hippie piled my 3-legged border collie into my pickup truck and headed out to the fields looking for this place. I arrived early and was handed a drive-in movie speaker to put on my window and told to honk when appropriate. Well, nothing moved me because I was going to worship.
Being early, my dog and I ran out into the field and worshipped The Lord barefooted in the dew until the sun began to rise and the people came. Happily I piled back into my truck and dutifully honked when told. Then we were invited into the projection tower for coffee. Everyone stared at me when I arrived. I guess I DID loo’ a bit ‘different, but it was MY turn to stare – and yes – run out in fear when they offered me a HOT CROSS BUN! I was SHOCKED! What kind of cult was this mocking the cross? I guess you could say it was a clash of cultures!
My next sunrise service found me in Placerville, California where I read that there was one at the Diamond Springs Church. Again I found my way, this time to a small older wooden house built close up to others. About 10 people were gathered in the back yard with chickens, a pig and a goat. A Baptist Hymnal was handed out each of us. To my surprise a very chubby boy of maybe 12 came out with a TUBA and began BLASTING “Up from the grave HE arose”…accompanied by the slamming of windows all around and a few nasty words.
So far I was not being the witness of the Resurrection that I wanted to be. The following year I took a blanket and my new baby (thank You Lord) AND dog and found a beautiful quiet hilltop where we worshipped. Then I went to the opening market and told everyone, “HE’S ALIVE.” They stared. Still no fruit.
And there was the year that a schoolteacher and I went to the highest place between Naknek and King Salmon Alaska, which happened to be a graveyard. It was a perfect place to have a tiny worship service (being He had conquered death), except that a sudden blizzard arose with the sun and we were stranded in a ditch until my husband woke up, found me missing, and came to look for us.
Along the with these anecdotal times were also wonderful ones and all along the way He has led me, even to this hill in Jerusalem.
With the moving of the body worldwide to understand and embrace more and more of the Jewish roots, there is an evolution taking place that is beautiful, sometimes hard, sometimes humorous, but always needing grace, like most changes. I realized that many churches celebrated Passover this week, having made the connection between Passover and the Cross. But the Jewish calendar, which dates from Moses, is different than the Gregorian calendar and so this year Passover (Pesach) isn’t until 22 April. Oops.
HOWEVER…this brings me to my Parable.
I SPILLED THE YEAST!!!
What in the world does this have to do with Resurrection, Passover, walking through 70 years and so forth.
Purim finally ended on Shabat (Saturday evening). In a Jewish household, particularly a JERUSALEM household, the passing of Purim means one thing – PREPARATIONS FOR PASSOVER MUST BEGIN IN ERNEST.
The center preparation theme of Pesach (Passover) is “GET RID OF THE LEAVEN” (in your heart and ALSO in your home)
“ In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’”
I’ve said before, many people simply make plans to go to a hotel for Passover and leave the cleaning to others. They seal up their houses. Those who can’t afford it: scrub.
I imagine that a tent was relatively easy to scrub or simply move.
Old apartments full of cracks, upholstered furniture, wooden tables and chairs, refrigerators and stove and TOASTERS are NOT so easy, and depending upon your degree of sensitivity to the commandment, it can be stressful.
“But,” you say, and RIGHTFULLY so, as a Jewish Blood bought redeemed by The Precious Lamb believer, aren’t you under grace and not under the law? You are FREED from the law of sin and death.”
Yep! This is true. And I am NOT saved by the keeping of the law. I know that and am free in that. But that Love that bought me and brought me back to my ancient homeland and people, placed a responsibility upon me to walk before Him in a manner pleasing and clean in this land and to rightly divide the Word of Truth. So, as I love Him and look at these verses I see in Exodus 12:14-17 (and SO many other places)
” ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.”
I do not struggle with this. I embrace it. It has been given in divine Love and I receive it that way as a witness among my own people.
But I’m seventy. I don’t bend as well or see as well and my scrubbing hands can get stiff and tired, not to mention these knees. It was with that in mind that I assessed my kitchen earlier in the day and mentally divided up my cleaning. I keep it to getting rid of anything leavened and cleaning the kitchen well. I have three weeks to do that, and I was ready to pace myself.
UNTIL I SPILLED MOST OF A BIG SACK OF YEAST LAST NIGHT!
Being a good wife, I had baked some yeast rolls for my husband thinking that this would be my last working with yeast before Passover. I was pretty careful with my surfaces and had cleaned up well, placing the yeast to the side to get rid of when done. Those of you who bake bread KNOW that yeast is alive and that it is VERY VERY STICKEY. Even when it is dry.
Soooo, when the whole bag tipped over, NOT onto a smooth surface mind you, but between two cabinets, I yelped! Things got worse as I attempted to clean it up. I stood back and surveyed the mess and prayed. “HELP, LORD!”
Yes, I did look to Him, and as I stared, I saw the PARABLE. Here it is: the eve of the day that Resurrection is to be celebrated. Here it is: the preparation for Pesach. Here it is: the law and grace. The WILL to do is there but OH WHERE IS THE WAY? No matter HOW much I try to scrub out the leaven, I still spill the yeast.
I sat down.
And I laughed.
Oh, I kept trying to gather up the yeast, but I sang as I did.
And I worshipped Him and began to think about those HUMEROUS sunrise services. Oh my, the TUBA in the middle of a tiny town on a Sunday sunrise! The honk to say Amen and Halleluyah! The hanging out of our windows to scrub off any leaven that might be sticking to an outside windowsill. All of our attempts to please Him were accomplished on the cross.
And for one, brief, fleeting moment: it just seemed THAT EASY! HE DOES ALL THINGS WELL.
Am I still struggling?
Well, OF COURSE! But I want to keep the parable of the yeast near at hand.
And so I lovingly close for now. If any of you have had the grace to read through this, may you be specially blessed! HE IS RISEN INDEED.
Blessings with love, for His glory,
Your sister J in Jerusalem