It’s now been a week since I left my new friends at Synagogue 3000. Others, particularly Ryan Bolger, have already blogged about the substance of the meeting. I, instead, will blog about my personal experience there. [UPDATE: May I also commend to you these blog posts about the event: Synablog and Scott Collins-Jones.]
I spend a lot of time at Christian institutions — in the last three months I’ve presented at places as diverse as Princeton Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and Wheaton College. At every place, I have been received with a mixture of hospitality and skepticism. While I have been seen as a fellow follower of Christ, I’ve also been seen as a threat (I imagine that I pose a different kind of threat to each group).
Now, Jews surely have more reason to receive me, a committed Christian believer, with a great deal of suspicion. Surely my Christianity is more threatening to Jews than it is to Presbyterians, Southern Baptists, Episcopalians, or Evangelicals. Surely people of my tribe have earned hearty skepticism from Jews.
But, instead of suspicion and skepticism, I was received with the warmth and hospitality that made me think, “These really are ‘People of the Book.’” The hospitality toward strangers that is such a prevalent theme in the Hebrew Scriptures was exemplified in spades by the rabbis, cantors, and Jewish leaders present.
And the worship! To describe it would be a disservice, so it will have to suffice to say that it touched my soul in ways that Christian worship has not since I-don’t-know-when.
Was my confidence in Jesus, the Messiah, shaken by my time with those who do not accept his Messiahship? No, it was bolstered. But not in a fist-shaking, white knuckle way. More in a quiet, humble, this-is-going-to-be-alright kind of way. Oh, you can bet that Emergent will be working with these Jewish leaders more in the days to come. They are beautiful people.