"May you be inscribed for a good year."
Last night and this morning saw the opening of the Book of Life. The days of repentence and renewal have begun. For the next ten days Jews across the world will be celebrating and reflecting back on the past year with the purpose of bridging the gap and solidifying their place in the Book of Life for another year.
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days, open and close this time of repentence.
As a college student I was hired each year to sing in the High Holy Day choir of a large Jewish temple. One year I even directed the choir. Each year I was awestruck by the richness of the structures, materials and liturgy in these houses of worship. Each year I listened, intent on finding out what these special days were all about, why they were so special. Often the messages in these long services were about how to revive the Jewish faith in our country; or how to keep the traditions alive in our culture today.
As the worshipers read through the Hebrew (their books of worship read right to left), I was able to pick out some words here and there and speak along with them. Our texts for the songs were beautiful and the scale used in the songs was one that brought to mind the flavor of Israel. The Torah, carried around and around the seats, was brushed by hundreds of penitent Jews who then touched their lips to transfer the holiness to themselves. It was a holy experience for me. But one that always gave me pause.
Though many Jews no longer believe that Messiah is coming, they rather believe that we are living in a "Messianic Age", I would always have the desire to shout, "He's come, you missed Him! It is Jesus whom you seek!" It weighed down my heart to know that the hope that so permeated the Jewish culture thousands of years ago is all but gone replaced often by resignation and ritual for ritual's sake.
Romans 11 tells us we are grafted into a vine that is already in existence. The root supports us, and we are not to boast. The Jews are the chosen people, we are the adopted sons and daughters. Our relationship is one of history, tradition and a shared love of the same God. I carried this sense of respect with me into every service.
So as we go about our business this season, let us remember our Jewish brothers and sisters. Lift them up in prayer that they may see the light of Christ in us and be changed. For we know without a doubt, that our life is secure in Jesus, the Book of Life for us is home.
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