The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable

The Vatican released a document recently, called ‘The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable’ on the subject of the Catholic church’s relationship with the Jewish people, Judaism and evangelism.

The media leapt on this news and reported it to have been saying that evangelism is not necessary, since the Jewish people have their own Covenant with God.

This article is a helpful clarification:

http://m.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/new-vatican-document-on-jews-salvation-and-evangelization/#ixzz3uQgjC3Ih

Does your church or denomination have an official doctrinal position on the subject of the Jewish people, Judaism and evangelism?

Does it have or support mission or mission organisations to the Jewish people?

Is it possible for a church or denomination to maintain friendly relationships with the Jewish people whilst simultaneously conducting missions to convert them?

What are your thoughts on the Vatican’s document and this clarification?

The Celtic Year

CelticYear

The Celtic Year by Shirley Toulson is a month-by-month list of Celtic saints with recommended ‘pilgrimages’ to make in every month.

It is put together in a peculiar arrangement of pagan seasons: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lammas.

But an unexpected delight in this book is the attention that the author has drawn attention to the fact that the very early Celtic church very much resembled the earliest, ancient Jewish Christian church, before it became influenced by more powerful forces.

Toulson also points out how the early pagan Celtic year resembled the Jewish year in many respects – a calendar based on the moon rather than the sun, counting the day from sunset to sunset rather than midnight to midnight, and the year from the autumn harvest instead of midwinter for example.

Additionally, the timing of the Celtic pagan festivals at the cross-quarter days, rather than the solstices and equinoxes of Anglo-Saxon and Roman paganism, are not far removed at all from the Jewish festivals. So when primitive Jewish Christianity came to Britain, as there is ample evidence it did, it would not have been an enormously difficult task to convert these pagan festivals to the new God of Christianity.

A nice, easy-to-read primer on the early Celtic church.

Shelach

For the past 12 weeks we have had very limited access to the internet. We’re in new premises, a brand new building that has yet to be connected to the phone line. Please join us in praying that this will be rectified very soon!

With all the major Christian festivals out of the way for this church year, we are back to Ordinary Time. But the Torah portions continue all year round, so now might be a good time to start looking at the weekly portions.

This week’s portion is Shelach, Send:

Shelach | שלח | “Send ”
Torah: Numbers 13:1-15:41
Prophets: Joshua 2:1-24
Gospel: Mark 10:1-45

Each portion consists of the main Torah reading, which is broken down into several readings (the Wikipedia entries for each portion are useful as they break them up into the individual aliyah readings https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shlach ), a portion from the prophets, or ‘haftarah’ and a suggested selection from the new testament, often called the B’rit Chadashah, or New Covenant. These vary and are not universally agreed upon. The selections in the Jewish New Testament suggest a selection that corresponds in theme to the Torah reading.

Shelach is the story of the spies, sent into the land of Canaan, who – with the exception of Joshua and Caleb – come back with a negative report.

See also: the Hebrew for Christians page http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Parashah/Summaries/Shelach_Lekha/shelach_lekha.html

Counting Through Eastertide

High King of Heaven
Who hath given us the Paschal Lamb
And raised this same Jesus to life

Be with us as we count the days
Of Eastertide

Journeying with You
To the revelation
Of Your Great Spirit
At Pentecost

In the Name of the Father, Son and Spirit, three-in-one
We pray
Amen

This week is the Feast of Unleavened Bread and, for Jews, the first week of the Counting of the Omer leading up to Shavuot. 

“You shall count from the eve of the second day of Passover, when an omer of grain is to be brought as an offering, seven complete weeks. The day after the seventh week of your counting will make fifty days, and you shall present a new meal offering to God.
Leviticus 23:15-16).”

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are linked to the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot (Whitsun or Pentecost) by the Counting of the Omer. 

While Passover is the celebration of redemption and freedom from slavery, The Feast of Weeks is the celebration of revelation, and traditionally the time of the giving of the Law, the Torah.

If you read what happened in the days following Passover (Exodus 12 and following), you will be able to see how God prepared His people for revelation:  there was the parting of the Red Sea, the bitter waters of Marah, the time of respite at Elim, their murmurings for food, the giving of manna, the attack by Amalek and so on, all of which happened during the period of the Counting of the Omer. 

Perhaps the reading of these events could be part of your own preparation for Pentecost.  

We can also read of the events following the resurrection of Yeshua in the Gospels and the book of Acts.  The 40 days that Yeshua spent with His disciples were the first 40 days of the Counting of the Omer. 

These events also prepared them for the special receiving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Jerusalem.  

Ten days before this first century Shavuot, Yeshua’s disciples ask Him their final question:

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:6-8

The disciples were understandably preoccupied with the political situation of their day and the time line for future events.  Yeshua brought them back to His priority – being a witness of who He is.  The power of the Holy Spirit would be given to them to enable them to accomplish this mission. 

It is just as true today as it was then.  

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33

Yeshua spoke about the need to avoid leaven:

“Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Luke 12:1

We are truly unleavened because of Yeshua, our Passover Lamb:

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
1 Corinthians 5:7

Leaven is of course a metaphor for sin, and has to do with the heart. Unleavened bread then represents purity of heart. 

Because of what Yeshua has accomplished for us, we must walk out His character:

“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
1 Corinthians 5:8

During this week of Unleavened Bread, while we are eating bread without leaven, in our hearts and minds we need to be getting rid of the fleshly leaven of self and get ready to accept the good leaven of His kingdom!

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God….Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness…in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
Colossians 3:3-8

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
1 Peter 2:1-2

By the time of Shavuot, the Israelites were asked to bring a wave offering of two loaves of leavened bread. 

Why leaven now?  Why not just do away with leaven completely? 

In fact, leaven is not always regarded as a symbol of evil.  Yeshua used the image of a woman adding leaven to a lump of dough to signify the (invisible) spread of the kingdom of God in the earth:

“And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? “It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
Luke 13:20-21

This is our goal.  To put away our fleshly leaven and be filled with the spiritual leaven that expands the kingdom. 

Next week we can once again introduce leaven into our diet.   What kind of leaven will it be?

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:1

The traditional blessing in Hebrew and English is:

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the omer.

~

The prayer at the top of the page here is my attempt at writing a Celtic prayer to mark the counting of days through Eastertide.

~
Over on Twitter, we’re posting the day count on @CelticOrder

Counting the #Omer from #FirstFruits #Pascha #Easter to #Whitsun #Pentecost #Shavuot
#Eastertide

Jewish Compline

Compline, that is night or bedtime prayer, is one of the traditional Hours of prayer that I try to pray every day, but I like to switch between different resources including Anglican, Catholic and the specifically Celtic prayer from the Northumbria community amongst others.

I also frequently use prayers from the Jewish Siddur including a lovely short bedtime prayer for children from a British Reformed Jewish prayer book.

The Jewish bedtime liturgy is built around the Shema, Judaism’s central prayer.

The following is a collection of traditional Jewish night prayers and blessings. The psalms 3 and 91 are also traditionally prayed at bedtime.

Jewish Bedtime Prayer

Blessed are You, [oh LORD], our God, Ruler of the universe, who closes my eyes in sleep, my eyelids in slumber.

May it be Your will, [oh LORD], My God and the God of my ancestors, to lie me down in peace and then to raise me up in peace.

Let no disturbing thoughts upset me, no evil dreams nor troubling fantasies.

May my bed be complete and whole in Your sight.

Grant me light so that I do not sleep the sleep of death, for it is You who illumines and enlightens me.

Blessed are You, [oh LORD], whose majesty gives light to the universe.

The Shema

Hear, O Israel, [the LORD], our God, [the LORD], is One.
Blessed be the Name of His Glorious Majesty forever and ever.

You shall love [the LORD] your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you are sitting at home and when you go on a journey, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes. You shall inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The Hashkivenu Prayer

Lie us down, [oh LORD] our God, in peace; and raise us up again, our Ruler, in life.

Spread over us Your Sukkah of shalom, direct us with Your good counsel, and save us for Your own Name’s sake.

Shield us; remove from us every enemy, pestilence, sword, famine, and sorrow.

Remove all adversaries from before us and from behind us, and shelter us in the shadow of Your wings.

For You are our guarding and saving God, yes, a gracious and compassionate God and King.

Guard our going out and our coming in for life and peace, now and always!

Prayer for Protection at Night

In the name of [the LORD] the God of Israel:

May the angel Michael be at my right,
and the angel Gabriel be at my left;
and in front of me the angel Uriel,
and behind me the angel Raphael…
and above my head the Shekhinah.

Amen v Amen, l’olam v’ed
(Amen and Amen, world without end)

    A Note on the Name

Where, in English translations, you see the word Lord in capital letters thus: LORD, it is usually referring to the personal name of God written YHVH (Yodh, hey, vav, hey in Hebrew) and traditionally translated specifically as Jehovah.

The pronounciation Jehovah is now realised to be quite wrong, firstly because the letter ‘J’ is a recent – linguistically speaking – mutation of the ‘Y’ sound (as in the name Jesus, which in most languages retains the original Hebrew ‘Y’ sound from the name Yeshua – elsewhere translated into English as Joshua). The ‘vav’ or ‘v’ sound can also have the ‘w’ sound, and so the version ‘Yahweh’ is now commonly used.*

An additional confusion around the pronounciation is that the Masoretes, who added pronunciation marks to the text, may have substituted the vowel marks for ‘Adonai’ wherever they saw the name YHVH in the text.

The Name has traditionally been purposely covered to avoid taking the Name in vain, and so in Jewish synagogues the word ‘Adonai’ (Lord) is used. Outside the synagogue, even the word ‘Adonai’ is considered too holy to use and so the word ‘HaShem’ (The Name) is spoken instead. Most observant Orthodox Jews will even extend this to the English words God and Lord, omitting the vowel ‘o’, writing the words as ‘G-d’ and ‘L-rd’.

The English translators mostly followed the Jewish tradition, translating the Name as ‘LORD’ except in certain specific places where an actual name was obviously required.

* My personal pronunciation preference for the Name is ‘Yahoveh’, but I do appreciate the reason why the Name was hidden in the way it was and I do think it shouldn’t be carelessly thrown about, and so I use the word ‘LORD’ more frequently.

I have followed the English translators’ custom here, with the word [LORD] in brackets. Please feel free to substitute whichever version of the Name that you feel most comfortable with.

Passover

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This year, Passover begins at sundown on Good Friday, 3rd April.

It is always good when Passover coincides with Easter / Pascha, especially Good Friday since then there is no doubt about when to start the omer count, and the church’s Pentecost and the Jewish Shavuot – which are one festival in the same – automatically end up on the same day).

So we start ‘counting the Omer’, 50 days / 7 weeks to Pentecost / Shavuot.

And then tonight, as Lent is ending, we are starting the Biblical fast, also called the ‘Feast’ of Unleavened Bread, which lasts for 8 days.

Chag Sameach!

Information on the Passover seder as well as all aspects of Jewish traditions around the Biblical Festivals can be found here:
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Pesach/Seder/Introduction/introduction.html

A traditional ‘seder’ – that is, order of service, with Messianic notes
http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/haggadah.html

As always, I haven’t checked every page and can’t vouch for external websites – please use your discernment.

Advent

adventwreath

Advent is the beginning of the traditional church year. This year, the first Sunday in advent falls on the 30th November, also St Andrew’s Day. (St Andrew is of course the Patron Saint of the Celtic country of Scotland.)

In the Celtic church, Advent – like many of the other festivals – was counted differently from that of the Roman church, as a 40 day period of preparation, much like Lent, starting around the middle of November (depending on whether or not sabbaths are counted) – not so much a preparation for Christmas, but rather for the return of the King.

In the early Jewish church, it is likely that this 40 day period of preparation was originally linked to the season of repentance running up to the High Holy Days – Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), Yom Teruah (The Day of Trumpets, known in Judaism as Rosh haShanah, Jewish New Year), and Sukkot, (The Feast of Tabernacles, Booths or Shelters, the final harvest festival of the Jewish year, and thought to be the Puritan Pilgrims’ inspiration for Thanksgiving).

All of the Autumn festivals have prophetic significance, and Sukkot in particular is linked to the return of the Messiah and the great Marriage Feast of Christ and his bride, the Church (Greek: Ekklesia, Hebrew: Kahal, both meaning a ‘called out body of people’. The Israelites in the Wilderness are sometimes referred to as the ‘Church in the Wilderness’.).

It is not known when the traditions associated with the High Holy Days of the early church migrated to the midwinter festival, but it was in any event a very early change, and it is impossible to know whether the early Celtic church retained the earlier Jewish traditions or the later customs. If Gildas was right in saying that the British church was founded in AD 37, however, it is conceivable that the earliest Celtic Christians celebrated Sukkot in the same way that we now celebrate Christmas, to celebrate Messiah’s birth and to look forward to his return.

Whenever you celebrate the first advent of Messiah, whether it be in the Autumn with the Jewish believers, or at midwinter with the Roman church, let us say together of his return, ‘Come Lord Jesus’.

Maranatha!

Early Jewish Believers’ View of Jesus

Looking at the Creeds, which determine the nature and essence of God, putting God into a box that we can understand, reveal a very Greco-Roman logical way of thinking, whereas the Jewish mind is accustomed to holding mystery and paradox in a tension without the need to explain every detail.

This post by Derek Leman on early
Jewish believers’ view of Jesus as God but reluctance to say so in so many words is interesting, and we look forward to reading his new book when it comes out.

http://www.derekleman.com/musings/careful-but-confusing-language-about-yeshua-as-divine-messiah/

Volunteers Needed!

celtic-tree-of-life

We are almost ready to launch officially, but it would be really helpful to find some volunteers to trial the discipleship and study side of the Celtic Order’s programme (you don’t need to sign up to become a Member, although you are welcome to do so if you like!)…

…with a view to possibly becoming spiritual mentors, or ‘Anam Cara’ for the next generation of new members.

This mentorship is not compulsory, so if you are interested in looking at our programme but don’t want to commit to that side of things, please don’t be put off! But it would be really helpful to have some feedback about our programme.

Ideally, you are already a Christian with at least a year or two of faith behind you. You may even already have completed some kind of discipleship programme.

Perhaps you are interested in new Monasticism but you’re not in a position to live in community? Perhaps you are interested in Celtic Christianity? Perhaps you are longing for more of God and a deeper experience of the Kingdom in your life?

We would love to hear from you!

 

Featured

under construction

celtic tree of life

Welcome!

This website is currently under construction.

Please feel free to have a look around, but be aware that there are many broken links (missing pages) and unfinished pages. We’ve also noticed that a lot of our links, to pages on this website are actually opening new tabs, which is really annoying. Sorry about that! We are on the case 🙂

It’s a work in progress.

Constructive criticism is welcome 🙂