This Shavu’ot, in honor of the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the teachers from First Fruits of Zion are gathering to provide historical answers about the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” from a Messianic Jewish perspective. We’ll be taking a serious look at the role of the Holy Spirit and supernatural gifts. What does Judaism say about prophets and prophecy? What did the gift of tongues mean to the early believers? What is a Spirit-filled life, and what are the gifts of the Spirit from an apostolic-Jewish perspective? How did they function? Is the Holy Spirit active today? How so? This is prophetic teaching about the power of the Messianic Era (the Kingdom) bursting into this current age in the form of supernatural manifestations.
The Gifts of the Spirit are tokens of the Messianic Era—a down payment on the promises of the Kingdom of Heaven, bringing the power of the Messianic Age into our world today.
-from the Shavuot Conference 2013 webpage
First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ)
I went to last year’s conference and had a blast, but just like last year right before I left home, I am experiencing a little trepidation. Things have changed in the last year. I’ve returned to a Sunday church setting for regular worship and have been exploring areas, concepts, and ideas that I have never touched on before.
Last year, I expected to be completely anonymous and was astonished when so many people recognized me. This year, I’m afraid I’ll expect people to recognize me (and I hope I’m not such an egomaniac) and instead I’ll be completely anonymous, even to the people I know well.
Truth be told, I don’t travel as well as I used to. I like going to new places once I arrive and I discover I really do have confirmed room reservations, transportation, and meals, but there’s always a concern that I’ll get on the wrong plane and end up in a different city, arrive at the correct destination but have no luggage (I actually dreamed about that recently), or arrive at the correct destination and no one will have heard of me. I have no desire to sleep in the airport.
I know this is the wrong attitude to approach this year’s Shavuot conference. The theme of the conference is Gifts of the Holy Spirit which presupposes faith and an expectation of gifts that are beyond human creation and experience. If God wants me to go to this conference, He’ll make it possible. If he wants me to participate in a meaningful way, He’ll make that happen too, somehow.
As you read this, it’s Tuesday morning (or later) and I’m on a plane between Boise and Salt Lake or between Salt Lake and Minneapolis–Saint Paul. I suppose if I traveled more, this wouldn’t seem so daunting, but I haven’t been on a plane since last year at this time, so it’s hardly a common occurence in my life.
OK, stop. There I go again. Trust. Faith. I’ve got to remember that.
Last year, I was just beginning to explore this whole Christian vs. Messianic thing. This year I’m deeply involved.
There’s another issue here though. This whole classification of Christian vs. Messianic among non-Jews is just a little crazy. I know that it’s meant to differentiate between traditional Sunday Christians and those who have become more aware of the Hebraic origins of our faith, but it’s gotten to the point where we’re almost acting like we have two different religions.
I know a number of non-Jews who self-identify as “Messianic” visit and read my blog posts. If that’s you, I want you to practice something in the privacy of your own homes when you’re all alone. I want you to say out loud, “I’m a Christian.” Repeat it a few times. C’mon, don’t whisper. Really belt it out. “I’m a Christian.”
“I’m a Christian.”
-Me from last year
Life is exploration. Life is change. Life is a journey and as I write this (last Wednesday morning from your point of view), I’m anticipating a big one (for me, anyway). I find that I’m suddenly scrambling in my brain and in my schedule to put last-minute touches on projects, make sure all my arrangements are arranged, and I’m still trying to frantically put all my ducks in a row (the darn things have a tendency to wander).
Last year I said, ” In some ways, I’ll be just as nervous attending the conference as I would be if I decided to visit a church next Sunday morning.” Right now, I’m more used to going to church on Sunday than I am attending a Messianic conference. I’m sure once I get there, everything will be fine, but there’s this nagging suspicion that I’ve mutated into a lifeform that will look, act, and sound alien to the people in that environment (kind of like a duck in a pond full of swans).
As you might expect, I’ll have little or no time to actually compose new “meditations” when I’m at the conference, so I won’t be posting “morning meditations” every day while away from home (I’ve composed a couple previously that will be automatically published tomorrow and the next day thanks to the WordPress scheduling feature). I may or may not get access to a computer, so I might not even be responding to comments (or clearing comments held for moderation) until the following Sunday, but we’ll see about that.
I’m hoping this will be a time of renewal and rejuvenation (an odd thought for someone approaching his sixth decade on earth) as well as a revived illumination. While I am a creature of habit and I take great comfort in a regular routine, the law of diminishing returns has kicked in and the more I walk my yearly circle in the same way and on the same path, the less I learn and thus, the less I can return to others.
I suppose I should consider Toby Janicki’s point of view on attending the conference:
Today, many Gentile believers are returning once again to the celebration of Shavuot under the auspices of Messianic Judaism. While Christian tradition focuses primarily on the Acts 2 outpouring of the spirit in its celebration of Pentecost, a Messianic Jewish celebration of Shavuot focuses on both this outpouring and the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. In some ways Shavuot represents the totality of the believers walk, spirit and truth. God not only gave Israel his precious instruction and desired they share it with the nations, but he also gave his people the Holy Spirit which enables us to walk out those instructions and spread the kingdom of heaven. Chag Sameach!
One day, God be willing, I’ll see Jerusalem and the Kotel with my own eyes within this lifetime. But if a trip to another part of my own country to see people who are relatively the same as me causes such concern, how will I face traveling to another country where the people don’t even speak my language and they conceptualize the world in fundamentally different ways?
May God travel with me on my journey (and journeys) and grant me companionship wherever I may find myself. May I also find Him there as well.
…when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” – And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
–John 21:18-19 (ESV)