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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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
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I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

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The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

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without the former 
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