Here we are nearing at the end of the first full day of the Congress. Monday evening was mostly introductory with worship, but today has been a very full day of business. The central focus has been defining what it means to be a nation and what practical steps can be taken across the planet to foster identity and cohesion.
Al McCarn led off this morning with a fantastic talk that might be classified as the Cliff Notes for parts of his book. (He told me a bit ago that he will post the text of his talk on his blog. As soon as he does, I’ll reblog here.) Not only was he well received, but the discussions that ensued were very helpful and unified in their understanding that we all need to be taking specific and measured steps that will help to foster national identity. Some easier than others, they included:
- Get fluent in Modern Hebrew!
- Establish local communities in anticipation of eventually emigrating.
- Network those communities for mutual support and helps,
- By lifestyle and example, tell others of Israelite identity
- Communicate our message through networked media outlets… (at least one delegate has national media access in their host country… But, also blogs, online radio, etc)
- Ask Judah for help in understanding Torah
- Offer to help Judah with making aliyah as well as supporting
Highlighted in the discussion was the centrality of Torah observance, but understanding that the Torah gives ‘general lines in which we are to color.’ Individual observances can vary, but we need to be inclusive enough to allow people to grow and observe in the manner the Ruach leads them. More specifically, we all need to learn to love and let our very capable Father be the Judge and convictor. Much like Acts 15:21, there should be a few basic rules that allow fellowship, then be free to let the Spirit grow people up as they learn while not defining ‘right observance’ so narrowly as what ever our personal conviction is.
Several topics were neatly sidestepped (tribal identity, DNA, etc) precisely because they have more potential to be divisive than helpful. Our greatest focus across the whole of Messianic/Hebrew roots belief must be learning to walk in unity and harmony inspite of differences in non-essential matters. (and, lest we are misunderstood, how to pronounce the Name is a non-essential!)
Following the discussion on nationhood, we had an absolutely marvelous presentation by Joachim and Yochanan of Beit El, a 50 year old kibbutz here in Israel. Originally founded as a Christian community of Germans who desired to bless Israel and live out Messiah in the Land, it has become a wonderful example of Yehovah’s blessing those who bless Abraham! Their slide presentation and story of how they grew from a single small building to now encompassing a dozen or more businesses and nearly 1000 employees was quite interesting. Yah’s hand of blessing and shalom was evidence in these two gentlemen.
John Conrad followed the Beit El gentlemen with an excellent talk about communities and considerations. He has led or been involved in a community for a couple decades. His talk prepared us to really begin discussing some of the finer points of community formation and what the benefits to the nation would be.
If family is the basis for community, then community is the basis for a nation. Through developing community, we can build leaders, common identity, common traditions and a national pride. Further, community allows us to mutually support other ‘family members’ in developing business and sharing resources. Trades and businesses/experience can then be advantageous upon coming to Israel that we be a blessing and not a burden. The moshav concept is preferred over the kibbutz.
Steps toward community include,
- bridge building between fellowships into regional networks,
- using congregations as community centers for culture and language building,
- apprenticeships where mature communities assist new communities how to avoid pitfalls.
Other discussions included ways to further connect with Israel,
- Foremost is to send members to the Land,
- Birthright type of program, maybe even for adults…
- Support Israel through widow/orphan type of ministry, but do so through Bney Yosef for a unified national message,
- Combine congregations to maintain rental property (“time shares”) in Israel.
In terms of national identity development, we need to be intentional in focusing on our youth and helping them develop identity not with the surrounding culture, but with our own.
Other items from the day that are interesting… More good worship and another musical duet/group I had not previously heard that has a fairly bluesy sound. Soon as I can get more info and a YouTube link, I’ll post. I only heard one song, B’nai Shalom, but I really liked their sound!
More as I have time to post… Traveling home Thursday very early a.m. Thank you for your continued prayers for the Congress.
Shalom and blessings.