Eugene Cho

alliance with…israel?

Quest is devoting today our time at all the services to an extended time of worship and prayer.  We did it couple months ago and people absolutely loved that time.  So, no preaching for me at Quest although I’ll be visiting some new friends at the Karen/Burmese refugee churchplant in South Seattle.

One of our [pastors and elders] commitments to our church membership and regular attendees is to genuinely listen to people’s concerns.  We obviously can’t acquiese to every concern but we try to listen

But let me again share that in the context of relationship and community, I just don’t understand the nature of anonymous comments.  And while other leaders may disagree with me, I choose not to put too much weight on comments, concerns, and suggestions that are unsigned.  If it weren’t for others, I’d rather just throw them out.

But having said that, I received this anonymous comment on March 3 in my mailbox via a phone call left on the church answering machine.  It was too interesting to discard. I have no idea if it’s a member, regular attendee, or visitor but will assume it’s a person in the latter two groups:

“I would like express an opinion that it is improper for a Christian church to hold Jewish ceremonies in a church building.  This practice weakens a Christian and shows an alliance with the current state of Israel.  That is wrong and should be discontinued.”

I’m also assuming this was in regards to church on Sunday, March 2.  Can someone help me?  I’m trying to think what could have happened that particular Sunday that proclaimed our alliance to the Zionist state of Israel?  I’m really confused…Was it because of our weekly invitation and celebration of communion? 

Filed under: religion

13 Responses

  1. anon says:

    could you enlighten me as to why it would be considered inappropriate for jewish services to be conducted in a church? here in nyc, churches regularly makes themselves available to jewish prayer groups that do not have their own synagogues for friday night and occassionally saturday morning services. it is considered one of the great examples of ecumenical outreach between the jewish and christian faiths.

    furthermore, whereas jesus was a jew and, as he said, he came to alter not one letter of the law, meaning that he was devoted fully to jewish law and custom, how could it be considered unchristian to worship jewishly? aren’t most christian rituals — in particular the eucharist — attempts to reinvent jewish rituals to make them more relevant to the christian masses?

    and finally, why should it bec “wrong” for christians to identify with the state of israel? israel enjoys an outstanding relationship with christian communities all around the world. every year, during the feast of tabernacles, tens of thousands of christians make pilgrimage to israel to visit christian holy shrines. they are treated with great respect and appreciation.

    certainly, israel’s occupation of the palestinian territories is morally problematic. but it should be noted that the palestinian muslim population does more than its fair share of persecuting, killing, and expelling palestinian christians in places like bethlehem and gaza. one cannot easily draw distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil, or david and goliath, when it comes to this conflict.

  2. DK says:

    How appropriate to have the first comment be anonymous in response to an a post about anonymous comments!

    I have no idea what that comment is about? Maybe it’s because of the announcement about the Passover Seder Meal?

  3. anon says:

    which is exactly what i was talking about in reference to christian rituals mimicking jewish ones… the eucharist is supposed to be a rewrite of the passover seder experience. but nonetheless, the seder is quite a profound ritual itself.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Eucharist is not about mimicking a Jewish ritual. Eucharist celebrates how Christ fufilled the prophecies of hope and redemption in the Passover. How His death and resurrection are part of the redemption story that began with the fall and is continually prophesied in the Hebrew history. Passover is itself a Messianic prophecy, and in communion, Jesus was saying, I have come, I have fulfilled this prophecy here today.

    Jesus was celebrating the Seder when He spoke the words we use in communion every week. He was breaking unleavened matzah and drinking Passover wine. Celebrating Passover as part of Holy Week is praising God for His fulfillment of His promises.

    This Seder is not a Jewish ceremony, it is a Christian one.

    And what about the verses in Romans that says that when we become Christians, we are adopted into the family of Abraham, because we become God’s chosen? Because we become part of the family of faith, of those throughout the ages who have sought after God, Jew or Gentile?

    Just because we acknowledge and celebrate our spiritual history with the Jewish people in no way means that we condone the violence being perpetrated by both sides in the Middle East. There is a big difference between the religious faith of a people and the current government of the Israeli state (just as there is a difference between our US government and the people of faith here).

  5. Wayne Park says:

    I don’t think it’s a problem to hold Jewish ceremonies… I would think half of our tradition in the church is already (historically) steeped in Judaism(s). We need that in order to understand our faith… I would think. I agree with the caller about the Zionism thing but I think he/she is overreacting.

    But anon – there is a reason it is problematic for Christians to identify w/Israel’s statehood. Zionism is a theological perspective that seriously favors the statehood of Israel over God’s redemptive plan for all the other nations of the world. It’s them or us, in other words. If we are Covenant Christians we believe we are ALL grafted into the tree (even if Israel is the trunk). But Zionists basically discriminate against who can be grafted in, using politics and lobbying to shut the door on numerous peoples from gaining access to the kingdom of God. It’s a new age of racism against the Muslim.

    I personally think you grossly misunderstand the situation if you think Palestinians are as much to blame as the Jews. Bottom line. The Jews live in suburban opulence. The Palestinians live in squalor, ghettoes. Is that representative of the justice of the God of Israel?

    And if Zionists are serious about what they believe, then Israel should be preparing for war against not only Palestine, but Egypt and the other surrounding nations, if it is their “manifest destiny” to get their territories back. It’s an absurd proposition.

    But having Jewish services in our churches – what’s wrong with that? I don’t think that’s exactly tantamount to Zionism…

    /rant

  6. What I find interesting is that Christians read scriptures written by the children of Israel, that is inspired by the God of Israel and yet do not serve and worship the God of Israel. For the life of me I can not find in scripture where the disciples celebrated Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. Another thing the promises of God are given to the children of Israel, which spiritual Israel is in the United States. We do not reside in these things called church buildings. The word church means to be called out or called out ones. The church is a people, the body of christ, not buildings.

    I find that Christians are apart of a Roman theology and is set on a reformed Roman law and is a branch of the religion of democracy. Democracy is a faith based system of experts, advisors, preachers, pastors, doctors, scientists, news casters, etc. and is based on classism through peer pressure. I cannot even tell Christians truth, because they get offended. Christians are without sacrifice, they do not use the Blood of Jesus or even know that they worship the Sun god. Even Hindus believe in three persons, one god. This is not scriptural and is not of the Living GOD of Israel.

    1 Corinthians 8:5-6 5For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

    Anyway Christians who do not know the Living God of Israel, but read about Him in their bibles will perish from lack of knowledge and understanding. Prepare the way for the Lord you Christians, now is the time to awake out of sleep and start serving the true GOD! Put on the Blood of Jesus over yourselves and your sins and ask God for forgiveness. Repent!

  7. iprdaily says:

    Am I allowed to enter a church or mosque?

    by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

    Entering a mosque does not pose a problem, since Islam is based on a belief in the one-and-only G-d.

    Entering a Church however, is problematic as Christianity is based on belief in the Trinity, a concept in which G-d is not ‘one-and-only’ but has partners as well.

    [According to many Halachic authorities, belief in the trinity is only forbidden for a Jew. A non-Jew may follow these tenets since belief in the omnipotent G-d is still present.]

    Therefore, it is forbidden for a Jew to enter the sanctuary of the church, i.e. where the actual prayer services are held. This could be misinterpreted as identification with the philosophy. However, it is permitted to enter other rooms in a church for non-religious purposes.

    http://www1.askmoses.com/article/180,2400/Am-I-allowed-to-enter-a-church-or-mosque.html

  8. Christine says:

    I agree with DK – it sounds like a response to the Seder meal to be held at Quest on Thursday. What I don’t understand is how observing “Jewish” holidays or observances aligns anyone with the “state” of Israel. Is Irael only made up of Jews? Is it considered only a “Jewish state”? Sounds a little like this person didn’t really think about what they said, and it’s a little cowardly I think to leave anonymous messages. Someday we are all going to know what everyone said – it will be made clear the owner of the words, spoken and unspoken. Oh well…for my part I’ll just pray for this anonymous message-leaver and hope that the respect and study of Christian roots will not weaken this particular person’s relationship with our Lord and Christ. Happy Palm Sunday!

  9. aaron says:

    It is frustrating when someone complains but leaves no channel to receive the viewpoint or understanding of the person they are complaining too, as well as clarify what has upset them and why.

  10. anon says:

    Rebecca, I have to disagree with your interpretation of that which Passover represents. In the Jewish view, Passover represents the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. Though we are commanded to acknowledge this miracle each and every day, the holiday itself is celebrated as a means to communicate our great “founding myth” to future generations. Also, though Passover is mentioned in the Torah (five books of Moses), the concept of a messiah doesn’t even appear until Prophets, and isn’t even consistent throughout scripture. Meaning, it would be exceptionally difficult, from Jewish scripture, to deduce a connection between Passover and a messianic prophecy.

    Wayne, I’m not drawing equivalency in the living standards of Israelis and Palestinians. As a person who lived in Israel for three years and volunteered with various human rights groups, resisting the occupation, I am more than well aware of the discrepancies between the Israeli and Palestinian quality of life. However, I have also been exposed, first hand, to the nature and level of hatred and violence in the Palestinian community, and I do not think that one can so easily point to the occupation as if it were a justification for any and all Palestinian behavior. Palestinian society has been egregiously f*cked for as long as there’s been a Palestinian national identity. Any intimacy with Middle East history will quickly demonstrate this fact.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Anon,

    And yet….Jesus chose the context of the Passover to create the Eucharist for us. Even if it is “exceptionally difficult” to see the connection, Jesus saw it/created it. Why would it be a problem to dive into the depts of that connection?

  12. Emanuel Appel says:

    The descriptions of Israel and Zionism by some of the above are bizarre.

    Zionism is the Jewish Political Liberation Movement. Liberation from the misery of living in a european and moslem oppressive environment. In Europe, the climax was the Holocaust.

    A nation without land is a nation living in misery and powerlessness. The Arabs have land from Bagdad to Morocco but it’s not enough. They must take from others.

    Israel is a nation entitled to organize its territory any way it sees fit just like America, just like the Arabs. Don’t like it? Don’t go there but don’t presume to tell others how to live.

  13. Wayne Park says:

    just wanted to clarify re: “Zionism” here on E’s blog…

    There’s political Zionism and then there’s Christian Zionism, which is a Christian fundamentalist strain of thought that sees the Statehood of Israel as part of their Armageddon agenda. In other words, once Israel has been restored to it’s former glory (think post-Exodus to Davidic / Solomonic Kingdom) THEN Jesus comes back, the world as we know it ends, and all that good stuff. So if you ask me, THAT’s what’s really bizarre.

    It’s different from political Zionism because it has a different motivation, namely, the end of the world. Christian Zionism has a way of making gospel ugly, distorted.

    just wanted to clarify that.

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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