Still Small Voice September 2018 / Tishri 5779
Meridel Rawlings, Box 84156, Mevasseret Zion, 9079097 Israel Dear Precious Friends,
This season of the year in the Jewish calendar is filled with very meaningful life-giving events. It’s like a show and tell, and the Jewish people have been practicing them for thousands of years. Think of it! Since 1979 Christians are joining in the fun by making their way to Jerusalem from the four corners of the earth to celebrate their very own “Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.” Pray for the day to come when we are truly one people!
Did you know that during the Jewish New Year we write our sins on a piece of paper and throw it into the sea? Did you know that there is a secret to sitting quietly in the Succah? Did you know that we are encompassed round about by so great a cloud of witnesses? Why is it called the Feast of the Great King? If you have questions, write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
“I will put My Spirit in you and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I the LORD have spoken it and performed it.” says the LORD. Ezekiel 37:14
This scripture promise is important because without a nation it is almost impossible to be a people. Its one thing for a few Jews in a neighborhood in say, Toronto or London to have their Succahs set up to celebrate… and quite another entirely, to see a whole nation celebrating an ancient Biblical Feast. Israel is unique! I encourage you to come and see for yourself. Don’t take our word for it.
For the last month, serious people have been ‘repenting’ for stepping on their brother’s toes. This hard work is done before the New Year. These are called the days of “slihot” when we consider if we have offended anyone; Meridel says not “if” but “when”.
Then comes the obedience requirement, when we must go to that person in a spirit of humility and ask forgiveness for the offenses committed. Its really tough when they don’t accept our request for forgiveness, but that is another subject.
Then we look for a fresh body of water to toss our sins into. Why? Because God promised to drown our sins in the depths of the sea. That is taking Him at His Word! Everything requires some kind of participation. I like the practicality of it, don’t you?
Actually, this exercise is very good for the soul and is exactly what Christians are required to do at the Communion table; The Lord’s Supper. This is also true at the weekly Shabbat Feast on Friday evenings. After the blessings, we Rawlings ask each family member
present for forgiveness for any offenses committed during the past week. You can’t look someone in the eye, or give them a good hug if you hold something against them in your heart. This keeps our offense list quite short. This practice is followed by a holy kiss; and in our family a warm hug, while uttering the salutation, Shabbat Shalom. Boy, now the food really tastes great.
We come to you; our family of friends and partners around the world. Meridel joins me in sincerely ask ing for your forgiveness for any way in which we, our team or family have offended you over the last year. I never want to write to you in a spirit of superiority or haughtiness, or to take you for granted. Your goodness and faith have kept our work moving forward all of these years. It’s going to be 50 as of October 20th this year. Imagine!
We observe the Biblical fast of Yom Kippur given from God to Moses. It’s not to get “brownie points” for doing so but as a way of putting our money where our mouth is. It is one thing to talk about repentance and quite another to do it. Try not taking a sip of water for a full 26 or 27 hours… it is not for the faint-hearted. The discipline is likened to preparing for your wedding day. The fasting brings on humility. But this day you come face to face with the Living God. It’s between Him and me… if I have done my homework in preparation. Yes, of course, it is only Messiah who removes our sins from us. But we work willingly with Him because we are all called to decrease, so that He can INCREASE in our everyday lives. You know, making a difference where the rubber hits the road! We rejoice in the cleansing that comes with drawing near to the LORD. Lest we forget…!
Photo of Painting; ‘Supplication on Yom Kippur’ by Joy Caros. Joy is a beloved family member. Her magnificent life-size portraits of the Prime Ministers and Presidents of Israel in oil are hung in the Knesset in Jerusalem. We are so proud of you Joy!
As Yom Kippur ends with the appearance of three stars; a breakfast meal is enjoyed in the cool of the evening with our community, family and or friends. Now let the celebrations begin! Let Joy burst forth. And it does! The next thing you hear are the happy sounds of hammers as we build our Succot or flimsy temporary booths. Again, they represent the transient nature of our lives. God is our true shelter from any storm in life, and for a week we are children playing in His world of goodness and loving kindness. It is a 24/7 picnic times 8! Here we eat and some of us even sleep for the next 8 days during the Feast of Tabernacles. We are forbidden to be sad during this time of harvest. We specialize in rejoicing with our family and friends and visitors from near and far.
This all happens this year during the Gregorian month of September and the Hebrew months of Elul and Tishri.
In closing, we have enjoyed writing this letter together. Jay and I wish you all a very blessed time these next few weeks. Thanks again for your very kind and deeply appreciated prayers and financial support.
From your family here in Jerusalem. In Yeshua’s love, Jay, Meridel and Family