July 13, 2009

Church Experiment #28: Beth Messiah Synagogue

Going into the Saturday morning service, I believed one of two things to be true of Messianic Jews:

1) They were Jews who believed in Jesus.
2) They were Christians who still practiced Jewish traditions.

After the service, I’m more confused than I was going in. In two hours and fifteen minutes (which is a long time to be in a synagogue), Jesus was never mentioned. Not once. They talked about God a lot, but no Jesus. Or, if he was mentioned, I missed it, which means he wasn’t a centerpiece of the service. (I know they use Yeshua, but I didn’t hear that either.)

So … moving on.

For the first time in a long time, no one really spoke to me during my visit. The greeter barely said hello, and that was the only time someone addressed me. The main room sat about three hundred people, and it was probably about half full at its peak. People dressed business-casual, and many (but not all) of the men wore prayer shawls and kippahs. The congregation was mostly white, and there was a fairly wide range of ages. The service started a few minutes late, and as I mentioned, lasted over two hours. In all fairness, Beth Messiah (www.bethmessiah.net) did host a guest musician, Jimmie Black, who played for over an hour, so maybe this was a long service for them.

The service officially began with a prayer, specifically asking us to, “Bathe in the presence of Hashem.” I hope Hashem is God, because I knew a guy named Hashem, and I don’t want to take a bath in front of him.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.