Shavuot in Jerusalem

A little girl wearing a fresh flower wreath, Shavuot

Last night as the sun set, Jerusalem silenced herself in the same way she does each Friday night. It is Shavuot (Pentecost), a day set apart to thank God for giving the Law to his pilgrim people at Mt. Sinai after he freed them from slavery in Egypt. Jesus’ disciples headed to Jerusalem as he told them to do just before he ascended to his Father. They would have wanted to be in Jerusalem anyway, as Shavuot is one of three yearly festivals where the Jewish people would have flocked to the Temple bearing offerings – this day, of the first fruits of their crops. They’d been measuring the days from Passover to Shavuot, counting as God had commanded them to do. That counting of days each year had wired expectation into them, and Jesus’ words had ignited the counting, waiting, wondering.

That first Shavuot after the resurrection, the ingathered in Jerusalem were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be sent to proclaim the living light of Jesus to all nations.

Messianic congregations coming together to celebrate Shavuot

Messianic congregations coming together to celebrate Shavuot

Today, we were invited to a Pentecost gathering of believers from dozens of congregations from across Israel. We chatted with people who’d returned as lights to the land from many nations, just a few minutes’ drive from the site where the Holy Spirit fell on Shavuot.

Caspari book table

The Caspari Center had a book table at the event, and we had an opportunity to listen as the staff interacted with the people who stopped to browse. One conversation stood out for me. A woman spent quite a long time telling one of the staffers how much she’d been blessed by the gracious and thoughtful way Caspari supports the work of the congregations in Israel.

My husband Bill and I are impressed by their service, too, and are glad to play a small part in their work. Bill’s meetings with the board went well. Knut Hoyland, who has served as International Director/CEO for the last several years, will be returning to Norway to pastor a church. The incoming director, Elizabeth Levy, was able to participate in the meetings as they prayerfully planned for the future of the ministry. I help with some of the administrative tasks for Caspari’s US office, and am grateful for the chance to have a bit of face time with those with whom I work via the net.

Earlier this week, Bill had the opportunity to go on a tour of the Old City led by an archaeologist who focused on Byzantine era findings, and we both had an opportunity to hear from Father David Neuhaus, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Hebrew-speaking communities in Israel – a Jewish Jesuit. We come to listen and to learn and to pray. Our heritage and our faith connect us to this land and her people in profound ways. Each trip here (this is #6!) changes and stretches us.

This particular trip got off to a choppy beginning due to some long-distance pet-sitting challenges and a 1″ diameter blister on my foot on the verge of a painful infection. Thanks to those who prayed. The cat is at a friend’s home, and the foot appears to be on the mend. We hope to spend some time walking the streets of the Old City tomorrow, and on Friday, we head to the Dead Sea for our first visit to that part of the country.

About Michelle Van Loon

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