Monday, March 17, 2008

Shalom Alechem

Yesterday was interesting... It started with a presentation in both morning services of my church of a Passover Seder, with explanation from the amazing Stuart Rothberg, a teaching pastor at Sagemont Baptist Church in Houston, of the many, many specific ways this 3,500-year-old ceremonial meal not only looks back to God's deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt, but also forward to the coming of Jesus the Messiah. (This was my fourth time through a "Christ in the Passover"-type presentation, including one my parents and family celebrated together at home last year, and it never fails to amaze me. If you are a believer in Jesus, you owe it to yourself to see it sometime. If you are Jewish, ditto. Everyone else... ditto, too. What are you waiting for???)

For music, we also had the incomparable Dr. Maurice Sklar, one of the most impressive violinists I have ever heard. (And having played the violin -- poorly -- in my youth, I really marvel at and appreciate a true master of the instrument.) I was in an expanded praise team during both services, and we sang several traditional Jewish songs along with some newer ones written by Jewish believers in Jesus. (Dr. Sklar's tongue-in-cheek comment upon hearing us rehearse one song: "Eliyahu sung in a Baptist church? You are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.")

So after that morning exposure to Judaism (admittedly with a Messianic perspective)... where better to spend my afternoon, than in synagogue, of course! The Vocal Majority performed a show at Temple Emanu-el in Dallas before an appreciative audience of around 300 people. It may have been the first time I've been in a synagogue, though I vaguely seem to recall going to one on a school field trip in my youth. From the little bit of exploring in hallways and classrooms I was able to do, I was struck by how much it resembled many of the hundreds of churches I've been in (absent crosses and pictures of Jesus, of course), a resemblance made all the more uncanny by the fact that the Temple's Cantor, our host, was the spitting image of a former music minister of mine -- except, of course, for the yarmulke.

All in all, a very interesting but tiring day. My morning was filled with lots of music in minor keys and aspirated "ch" sounds and my afternoon was spent in synagogue. That's as much immersion in Jewish culture as this goyim has ever had.

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