Kehilat Yeshua

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This blog has been rather quiet this year, hasn’t it? I had envisioned spending this year blogging about the fun projects I have been working on in our new house, but I’ve realized that there are only so many hours in the day, and blogging just didn’t make the cut!

But it has been a fun year, full of adventures and changes as we have settled into our new home and new town. We have done a lot of decorating, and I’ve really enjoyed that as a creative outlet. We’re still working on plans for the landscaping, so other than planting some baby trees, our land is still rather barren. Last fall we had the fun adventure of “chicken-sitting” our friends’ chicken flock. They were loads of fun to watch roam around looking for treats. And we’ve brought in another kitty to keep our Simba company – Stella is a sweet friend to him.

But the biggest change this year was the transition from helping to lead worship at our church to moving forward with the dream God gave us to plant a Messianic community here in the Treasure Valley.

Last summer, we hosted a Bible study in our home on Saturday afternoons, and had a lovely time making friends.

On the Shabbat before Rosh HaShannah, Mark and I were in prayer and felt God clearly tell us it was time to step out in faith to start a Messianic Fellowship. Within a few days, this calling was confirmed through another couple that God told to reconnect with us. And so we began with 2 couples last October.

Since then, we have been joined by many more people who share our heart and dream. It has been an exciting honor to see how the Lord is placing people in our group, which we call Kehilat Yeshua.

If you have stumbled on this blog and are interested in learning more about our community, please check out our website or come join us for a Shabbat morning service!

Blessings!
Judy

2015 Messianic/Christian Passover Seder

Messianic Seder tables

2015 Christian Messianic Passover Seder in Boise/Meridian, Idaho!

** If you found this post in 2017, please note we ARE doing a seder this year and tickets are FREE! Signup is required. Please visit http://boisepassover.com for more details!**

This year we are hosting our third annual Community Passover Seder! If you have never gone to a Seder before, it’s an incredible time of learning about the Lord’s appointed time and the significance of His death and resurrection during Passover.

It will be held at the address and time below. If you are in the greater Boise/Eagle/Meridian/Nampa/Caldwell area, you are welcome and invited to attend! This Christian Passover seder is open to everyone (non-denominational) and will be family-friendly.

This year it will also be free of charge, as an organized potluck. Our hope is that this will enable anyone to attend and be blessed by this amazing experience. Please register at the link below, as we will need to arrange sufficient seating. Thank you!

Location: Treasure Valley Worship Center, 50 Spicewood Drive in Meridian, Idaho
Date/Time: Thursday, April 2nd at 6:30pm

For more information and to register, please go to http://boisepassover.com.

We look forward to seeing you there!
– Judy

Our Messianic Sukkot Celebration

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Tonight begins the week-long festival of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles). This is a festival of praise, joy, and celebration with themes including God providing for his children in the wilderness, God dwelling with us, and for Believers, the birth of Yeshua. It’s closely follows the more somber and introspective holidays of the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Ten Days of Awe, and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

In our family, Sukkot also typically falls around the end of birthday season, and by this time in the fall, this mama is usually worn out and out of creativity to make a special holiday for our family. So this year, I decided early to plan a bit better so that we could do more and make it more memorable. We aren’t able to build a sukkah this year (a temporary dwelling for eating and hanging out in), but I was able to make a list of a few things that would set this week apart from the rest of the fall season:

1. We got out our decorations. We actually have had a box of fall decorations sitting in the garage unopened for 2 years! This year, the kids helped me take them out and set them up.

2. Apple cider. My husband requested a bottomless crock pot of cider kept on for the holiday, so I’ve been stocking up on apple cider so we’d have enough to enjoy it all week. Mmmm…!

3. Chili for dinner. Nothing says fall like a bowl of hot chili, right? I think I’m going to start a tradition of starting Sukkot with a meal of a hot fall stew (maybe chili every year?).

4. A fire in our fire pit. I love fire. It captures my senses in a way nothing else does. The sight, sound, smell… Just ahhhh… 🙂

5. A special fall candle. I love lighting Shabbat candles every week – it’s a beautiful sensory experience that deepens the setting apart of the day. And we light Shabbat candles on the first and last days of Sukkot that are special Sabbath rest days. But what about the other days? I want the whole holiday to feel cohesive and special. So I got a pretty orange candle to light every day of Sukkot, just because. 🙂

6. A nativity set. This one is something in really excited about, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but hadn’t prioritized until this year. We believe that Yeshua’s birth took place during the Feast of Tabernacles, and we read the story of His birth this week, so I wanted to incorporate a visual element too. I chose the Willow Tree nativity set because I liked the simple, rustic look of it and the lack of facial features (I have a thing about images of Yeshua).

So anyway, the kids are in bed now and our first night went as well as we’d hoped for. We started with lighting Shabbat candles and blessings over grape juice and challah. Dinner of chili & bread was a hit and no complaining! (Mama win!) After dinner we lit a fire in the fire pit and migrated outside to roast a few kosher marshmallows that were getting stale. (Totally not planned but it felt good to say “yes”!) Then we got everyone some cider and listened while Mark read the nativity story from Luke. That was a bit rough – 5 tired kids who are now eating marshmallows and cider and totally distracted by a fire (one of whom is trying to stick himself into said fire and won’t let me hold him!). We had to pause and restart a couple times, but in the end I think it went well. 🙂

Now, time for a cup of tea and some quiet reading to end my day.

Shalom,
Judy

Christian/Messianic Passover Seder in Boise/Meridian

afikomen matzah

** If you found this post in 2017, please note we ARE doing a seder this year and tickets are FREE! Signup is required. Please visit http://boisepassover.com for more details!**

One year ago, we celebrated Passover by hosting our first community Passover Seder (dinner) in our home.  We got tables, decorated, and enjoyed the celebration with 34 people – family, friends, and strangers-made-new-friends alike!  It was a wonderful time.

This year we are holding our second annual Community Passover Seder.

It will be held at the address and time below. If you are in the greater Boise/Eagle/Meridian/Nampa/Caldwell area, you are welcome and invited to attend! This Christian Passover seder is open to everyone (non-denominational) and will be family-friendly.  🙂

Come take part in the Passover with us! Learn the messianic significance of Passover and see how it points to Yeshua, Jesus, as the Redeemer and Messiah of Israel and the world!

Location: Treasure Valley Worship Center, 50 Spicewood Drive in Meridian, Idaho
Date/Time: Monday, April 14th at 6:30pm

For more information and to purchase tickets, please go to boisepassover.com.

We look forward to seeing you there!
– Judy

The Lord Establishes Our Steps

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Many of you all know that deep in Mark and my heart has always been the desire to build a healthy, vibrant, Messianic community here in the Boise area.

In that vein, we built a website to get our name out, hoping that others would find us who were also interested in this same thing. Through this website, we have met wonderful people and are so very thankful for that!

However, we have been realizing over the past few months that the Lord has really called us to something a bit different, at least for this season of our lives.

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but we have returned to the greater Christian church. Many Messianic believers cringe at this idea, turned off at the idea of facing replacement theology, supercessionism, and “grace vs. law” doctrine. And we know that it this change will carry with it its own set of challenges. But we also know without a doubt that this is the path that God has called us to walk. We are excited about joining with a local church, working to help grow their community, worship together with them, and build friendships for us and our children.

In the process, we are praying that the Lord will open doors for us to share the joy that we have found in the Torah and in discovering the Jewish roots of our faith. But that is not our main reason for returning to church. It is truly where the heart of God has drawn us.

And we want to seek the heart of God most of all.

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

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Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – they are the High Holy Days of the Jewish year. But what is their significance for Christians? Do these holidays still hold meaning and power for those of us who either aren’t Jewish or are Jewish Believers?

If you know me, you know that my answer is obvious. Yes! But why? Why do we, as Christians (or Messianic Believers) celebrate the High Holy Days?

First of all, when it comes to celebrating the Biblical Holidays in general, I believe that we serve a God who never changes, and our God created these holidays for us as Appointed Times. Did you get that? God created holidays as an “appointment” to meet with us, and for us to celebrate! Their importance and significance has not been diminished over the years, because God never changes! We also know from Scripture that Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated these holidays and commanded us to imitate Him. The early believers all worshiped in the context of Judaism, and these holidays were celebrated by believers until antisemitism crept in and began pulling Christians away from their roots.

So with that established, you may now be thinking “Okay, I see that there’s value in celebrating God’s holidays, but what are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur all about? How do I celebrated them?”

Let’s start with this. The main theme of the High Holy Days is repentance. These are good days, but weighty days. They are joyous, because we serve a God who forgives, a God who desires right relationship with His people and gives us a way to be right with Him through His Son. But they are still serious, because our sin separates us from God, and that is a very serious thing.

Rosh Hashanah is known in Scripture as Yom Teruah – the Day of Blowing, what we also call the Feast of Trumpets. On this day, there are only a couple of commands – to gather together (a holy convocation) and to listen to the blowing of the shofar.

What is the significance of the shofar? The shofar has been used in Scripture as an audible symbol of the presence of God. It brings us back to Mount Sinai, where the people heard the shofar blast growing louder and louder, as God Almighty was preparing to give His people His instructions for life. It was used in worship throughout centuries. And we know that when our Messiah comes again, the sound of the shofar will precede Him. God, in His wisdom, established a holiday in which we are to listen to the shofar. We not only spend this time looking forward to His final return, but we remember the importance of paying attention to His presence in our lives now and listening to His voice.

Rosh Hashanah also begins what is called the 10 Days of Awe. This is a time set aside for introspection and righting wrongs in your life, especially in the area of relationships with others. This time prepares you for the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It is the holiest day of the year. Unlike other holidays which are feasts, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting. It is a somber day. Jewish people traditionally spend this day in prayer, repenting for sin and asking God to seal them in the Book of Life for another year. As Christians, we don’t believe that we need to ask for salvation year after year. Our salvation is promised to us through our surrender of our lives to the Lord.

But there is still great value to keeping Yom Kippur! We still have the theme of repentance that is so important. It is another chance to make sure our lives are in right standing with God. We remember that atonement for our sins was bought with Yeshua’s blood. And we thank Him that we know our names are written in the Book of Life!

I hope that I have inspired you to celebrate these fall feasts to some degree through this little blog post. God has designed these Appointed Days with so much meaning and purpose, and I know He has something planned for you in them as well.

L’Shana Tova!
~ Judy

Celebrating Our Messiah’s Resurrection

This week our family has been celebrating Passover, and it’s been a lovely week!

It started out with us hosting our first community Passover Seder on the first evening of Passover. Next, we celebrated our oldest’s 7th birthday, and we will celebrating Yeshua’s resurrection on Sunday.

With the festive nature and significance of the holidays of this week I felt inspired to write a little more about Passover. I want to introduce you to the little-known holiday of Yom HaBikkurim, discuss the roots of Easter, and then go over the whole thing from a Messianic perspective.

I’m not going to write an exhaustive essay on these topics.  But my hope is that you’ll come out on the other side with a better understanding than you started out with. 🙂

Passover – A Quick Overview

As an overview, the Passover holiday is comprised of three parts:

1.) The first night (often 2 nights)- which is what is typically referred to as Passover, when we celebrate with a seder dinner.
2.) The week of unleavened bread- when God tells us to eat only unleavened bread in remembrance (Leviticus 23:4-8)
3.) Yom HaBikkurim, which is the Feast of Early Firstfruits. (Here is a great article about the timing of Yom Habikkurim and the counting of the omer.)

Yom HaBikkurim – The Feast of Early Firstfruits

The Feast of Firstfruits is a very interesting holiday because it spans 50 days! The first day is the Feast of Early Firstfruits, Yom HaBikkurim, which is when the first fruits of the barley harvest were brought to the Lord. This day begins the counting of the omer, a counting of 49 days, after which another holiday, the Feast of Latter Firstfruits, or Shavuot, is celebrated. The latter firstfruits is when the first fruits of the wheat harvest was brought to the Lord.

Like all of the other holy days that the Lord has designed for us to celebrate and meet with Him, these two holidays have much more than an agricultural meaning. Historically, it is believed that the first Yom HaBikkurim was the day that God delivered His people from the Egyptians at the Red Sea, finalizing their freedom. It is also believed that the first Shavuot was the day that God gave the Torah on Mount Sinai.

But where I believe this gets really interesting is when we look at the Messianic fulfillments of these two holidays. Yom HaBikkurim is the day that our Messiah rose from the dead after His crucifixion.  Just as we will someday rise from death, He has risen, as the firstfruits:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23

And Shavuot is also known as Penticost, meaning fifty. As we know, this is the day that Yeshua sent His Spirit to the Jewish believers gathered in Jerusalem. (Acts 2)

Our Celebration of His Resurrection

Just as we honor the Lord’s death on Passover, we have found much meaning celebrating the resurrection of our Master on Yom HaBikkurim. There is a deep authenticity to the keeping of a holy day that was set apart by the Lord Himself. Knowing that God established these days so far in advance, with the plan of their ultimate fulfillment in Yeshua’s coming, is such an amazing realization!

While we can’t bring the first fruits of the barley harvest to the temple to offer to the Lord, we can offer Him the first fruits of our lives.  We can continue to meditate on the freedom that He gives us through Yeshua’s death that is ultimately known through His resurrection.  And we can celebrate that just as our Master was risen from death, we have achieved victory over death through His sacrifice!

What About Easter?

Now I am going to shift gears a bit.  I want to talk about the holiday that is usually used to celebrate the Messiah’s resurrection: Easter.

There is a lot of information out there discussing the history of Easter. And a lot of it is just plain terrifying! I don’t know about you, but when we began down the road of Messianic observance, we were mortified at the things we read and quickly put a stop to all of our celebrations that had questionable history. (Another blog coming later about this.) After several years of learning, we were finally introduced to some thorough, unbiased scholarship in this area. The FFOZ teaching, What About Paganism, was an eye-opening look into the actual history of these holidays. I would encourage anyone who is questioning the roots of these celebrations to check out this resource and get the whole scoop.

Here are a couple of things we’ve learned:

Myth: Easter is named after Ishtar, the goddess of fertility.
Fact: Easter is named after Ēastre , the month in the Old English calendar on which it fell. (Just as most of our months are still named after ancient gods.)

Myth: The Eucharist is pagan in origin, derived from the worship of Mithra.
Fact: The Eucharist comes from the Passover Seder, and has become separated from its Jewish roots over time.

Also, in most cultures and languages around the world, the celebration of Yeshua’s death and resurrection is still known as Passover – Pasqua, Paska, Pascha, Pascua – all derived from the Hebrew word Pesach, meaning Passover.

If you are questioning the roots of Easter I highly recommend you check out the resource above.  But suffice to say that we have come to the conclusion that celebrating Easter is not participating in some ancient pagan ritual.  Like anything else in life, you can choose to do it in a way that brings honor and glory to the Lord, or you can choose to do it in a way that pleases the flesh and ignores God.

Reconciling Easter as a Messianic Believer

In the Messianic community the misinformation I referenced briefly above has caused a lot  of paranoia about paganism.  Many people refuse to get together with the rest of their families who celebrate certain holidays because they believe it’s sinful.  Many spread false information and fear among believers.  And while I believe that the majority of people who do this do it out of genuine desire to honor God, it grieves me.  It grieves me because it is so alienating. It causes dissension and animosity between believers and does nothing to build the kingdom of God. So much of this information is also based on poor scholarship, which sends the message to the rest of the Christian world that we are “fringe” and uneducated. It can also cause deep, lasting hurt in families.

The Weightier Matters of Torah

This year we will be attending an Easter morning service for the first time since we’ve been married. Why? Because we now live close to Mark’s parents and we know that it would honor them (and bless us as well) to celebrate with them. This year, Easter is also the same day as Yom HaBikkurim, which means our family will already be celebrating the Resurrection that day.

Yeshua tells us that we should be holding to the weightier matters of Torah – justice, mercy, and faithfulness:

Woe to you! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Matthew 23:23

He also tells us that love is the highest commandment of all:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12

Rabbi Shaul (Paul) reiterates this sentiment:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:10

And so does John in his first epistle:

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.
1 John 3:23-24

I want to encourage you to let love reign in your celebrations of our Lord this season.  Whether you celebrate Yom HaBikkurim or Easter, do so in a way that brings honor to Yeshua and His power over death.   May your love for others take precedence over the particulars of your observance.

And may we all strive to outdo one another in showing honor!

~Judy

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

Today is one of my favorite days of the year- Passover!

This year will hold a special place in my memory, as we hosted our first community Seder last night.  We turned our dining and family rooms into a banquet hall and fit 34 people in our home to celebrate God’s deliverance!

Messianic Seder tables

This is one of the holiest days on God’s calendar, and it holds even more significance for us as believers. Passover was the first holiday (other than the Sabbath) created by the Lord, set apart as a holy day to remember his deliverance of his people from slavery. Most of us know that Yeshua was crucified on Passover as well, fulfilling an even deeper aspect of the holiday.

As we went through the Seder last night, we talked about the meaning of each of the elements, and it always amazes me how God set up these symbols to all have dual meaning- both for the Exodus and for Yeshua’s death and resurrection. The most memorable part of the evening for me was when Mark taught about the afikomen. He was brought to tears, recalling our Messiah’s brutal, sacrificial death.

Our Master, Yeshua, told us what the significance of the afikomen is.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer… And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:14-15, 19

We believe the three matzot represent the unity of the Godhead – the Father, the Son (Messiah) and the Holy Spirit. The middle matzah represents our Messiah, Yeshua. There are may ways the afikomen points to our Master:

  • The first significance is in it’s name. Afikomen means “The One Who Comes Again”. Yeshua rose again from the dead to complete His mission of redemption and, of course, He will come again to establish His kingdom.
  • It is made without leaven which is a symbol of sin. Likewise, Yeshua was sinless.
  • The matzah is striped from hot, swift baking. Likewise, His body was striped by means of the Roman whip.
  • The matzah is pierced to prevent rising. Similarly, His body was pierced by the Roman nails in His hands and feet and the Roman spear thrust in his side.
  • As the afikomen is wrapped in white cloth, so was His body prepared in white cloth for burial in a tomb.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” … And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,  “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Luke 22:14-16, 20

Another key part of the Seder is the 4 cups of wine/juice that are drank in certain parts of the evening.  Each cup has a specific meaning.  The cup after the meal – the one that Yeshua took and said “Do this in remembrance of me” – is the third cup – the Cup of Redemption.  How appropriate is it that we are told to remember Yeshua’s sacrifice at the Cup of Redemption!  Not only do we celebrate the redemption of the Jewish people from slavery, but we celebrate our redemption from slavery to sin, bought by our Messiah’s precious blood!

Passover & Communion

Growing up in the church, communion was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have memorized the verses our pastor read every time:

The Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-25

But in doing this every month, it was never explained to me that what Christians do as Communion was in fact instituted by the Messiah as a part of Passover!  While Communion does have beautiful meaning and symbolism, the depth of Passover far exceeds it.  God created this day to be a sacred celebration for His people, and we – as Gentiles grafted into His people – are encouraged and welcome to partake in it and receive the blessings that it entails.

This season, I encourage you to look into Passover yourself.  Learn about the dual symbolism that the Lord gave us to remember Him by, and let Him speak to you through it!

Many Blessings this Passover Season,
– Judy

New Year, New Beginning: The Next Season of Growth and Change For Us…

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As we get ready to embark on a new year, we are also gearing up for a new adventure in the Rich family! For the past few months, Mark and I have been praying about forming a congregation here in the Boise area. We have become aware of a deep need for Biblically-solid Messianic teaching here and have felt led to take a step forward to try to fill that void.

We have been so blessed by the past 8 years we’ve spent at Beit Tikvah. While things aren’t perfect there, we have learned a lot about leadership, balance, and priorities. It has given us a great foundation that we hope to carry with us as we move into this next season in our lives.

We will begin opening our home for worship and Bible study this upcoming Saturday at 2pm. If you’d like more information about what we believe and our style of practice, you can check out our website at: http://houseofhopefellowship.com.

Mark and I would love your prayers during this time! We need a lot of wisdom and seek to honor the Lord with our actions and attitudes in all things. Thank you and much love to you all!

~Judy

Hanukkah – Why do we celebrate?

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We celebrate Hanukkah. And we’ve received our share of questions as to why we choose to celebrate this holiday. Unlike most of the holidays we celebrate, Hanukkah was not designed by God himself. It is usually seen as only a Jewish holiday, as it revolves around a critical piece of Jewish history.

So, let me share a few reasons why we find value in celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah:

1. Jesus did. First and foremost, we are disciples of Yeshua. We seek to imitate Him with our lives. He found Hanukkah important enough to not just celebrate, but to travel to Jerusalem in order to spend time at the temple during the 8-day holiday. (See John 10:22-30)

2. Without Hanukkah, Jesus wouldn’t have come and we would not have salvation! Scripture is clear that the Messiah would be Jewish and come to the Jewish people. Without the brave Maccabees fighting for the freedom to practice their faith, the Jewish people would’ve become completely assimilated into Greek culture or been annihilated. Yeshua wouldn’t have had a people to come to! We owe our salvation, in part, to these amazing heros.

3. Hanukkah has the powerful themes of dedication, light, and miracles. During these eight days, we meditate on how we are to be dedicating our lives to God, how He calls us to be a light to the world, and how He is a God who works miracles! These are wonderful, faith-building lessons for us and our children to learn.

For more information on celebrating Hanukkah with your family, the website http://www.biblicalholidays.com is a great resource, and for more detailed information, I highly recommend the resources from First Fruits of Zion, found online at: http://ffoz.com.