26 May 2007

National Day of Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving thought or two
By Bob Mendelsohn

I was in a rush. The children needed collecting in only thirty minutes. My wife was cold. We had entered the little Chinese restaurant in a hurry and sat quickly. The owner approached us with menus in hand and I told her that 'long soup' would be a great starter, thanks. She nodded.

Four minutes later she came by to take our order. I reiterated the 'long soup' request and she now wrote it down.
Oy, I thought, what's wrong with this woman? Didn't I already order this? Doesn't she know my wife needs warming, and that we are in a hurry?

Of course, she didn't know any of this. And she was managing the front section alone. And she did a great job. And within minutes our soup was on the table. Within a minute after that our hot tea was warming our insides and then the mains came very promptly. There was no reason for anxiety about collecting the kids or about thawing out. We ate and were satisfied; the children were fine as well and it all ended well.

I felt badly about my earlier thoughts and made sure I said "thank you" to the owner several times for each visit to our table and at the end at the till. I wondered if she knew of my earlier displeasure. It was hard to tell.
On this National Day of Thanksgiving, it's right to consider what we can truly admit to being thankful for. We can glibly mouth words of thanks for our football club or our parents, for food, etc, but what is it that makes us from the inside say 'thanks?'

"I hate ingratitude more in a man
Than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness,
Or any taint of vice, whose strong corruption
Inhabits our frail blood." (W Shakespeare,
Twelfth Night, Act iii, Scene 4)

What about gratitude for living in a country where it's still legal to believe as we believe and to share what we believe with others? We can conduct religious services in churches and synagogues, in mosques and public theatres if we want! For that I'm very grateful.

The food we have in grocery stores is fresh and bountiful, and we have choice about brands of products. Abundant also are clothiers and labels. We have plenty!

I'm shopping for cars just now, as people have been very generous to us in a recent appeal for a new Jews for Jesus vehicle. And there are choices of vehicles and I don't have to pay 'under the counter' to secure anything in a reasonable time.

We have two sides of every argument in Parliament and although the men and women there seem to misbehave and interrupt each other incessantly, we actually can watch or listen to the proceedings whilst they happen. We can even travel to Canberra and enter the chambers as a visitor and although there is a bit of security through which we have to pass, we can be an observer.

Our media might be biased, but they give us some information about events and personages of note.
We have much freedom in this island country and we ought to shout it from the housetops that we are grateful.

There are seasons of drought and borderline famine and yet God has recently extended favour on us in plentiful rains, even in country towns where it was needed most.

God, are you listening? We are a grateful people.

And it's one thing to be grateful and it's another thing to out loud say "thank you."

Paul was one of the earliest "Jews for Jesus." He had originally been a learned rabbi, even a student of the great Gamaliel. This was one whom God called to follow, and preach about, Jesus.  He wrote much of the Newer Testament and one of my favourite quotes of his came from the letter Paul wrote to the people in Colossae:
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." (Colossians 3:15-17)

Paul admonishes his followers to 'be thankful' and then to sing 'with thankfulness' and finally to be 'giving thanks' to God. The attitude comes first (be thankful) and it ends with conversation and praise to the Almighty out loud. Or at least however loud you choose to be. And isn't it wonderful in our country that we can be as loud as we choose to be? And we can shout cheers to our footy boys on the ground or the cricketers on the pitch or even to our God inside the churches and public gathering halls.

I'm glad to be an Australian resident and to give thanks to God on this National Day of Thanksgiving. You have the freedom here to join me as well.

Bob Mendelsohn
National Director
Jews for Jesus

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03 May 2007

Christian vs Pharisee

Christian vs Pharisee.jpg
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.
I'm so impressed with this book and these two gentlemen who wrote each other. This is a series of 14 letters from Dr RT Kendall, a famous Christian author and pastor, to Rabbi David Rosen, formerly of Ireland and South Africa. Rosen is a main player in the world of Jewish-Christian dialogue .

Dr R T Kendall retired as Minister of Westminster Chapel in the centre of London in 2001. He originates from America where he was Pastor of a number of churches before moving to the UK. He and his wife Louise now live in Key Largo, Florida.

Rabbi David Rosen is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee. He was born and educated in Britain, continuing his advanced rabbinic studies in Israel, where he received his ordination (semichah). In addition to military service in the armored corps of the IDF, he served as Chaplain to the forces in Western Sinai.

From 1975 to 1979, he was the Senior Rabbi of the largest Jewish congregation in South Africa and rabbinic judge on the Ecclesiastical Court (Beth Din). He was also founder/chairman of the Inter-Faith Forum, the Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

From 1979 to 1985, Rabbi Rosen was Chief Rabbi of Ireland where he founded, together with the Christian Primates of Ireland, the Irish Council of Christians and Jews. He was a member of the Academic Council as well as lecturer at the Irish School of Ecumenics.

He returned to Israel in 1985 to take up the appointment of Dean at the Sapir Center for Jewish Education and Culture in the Old City of Jerusalem and subsequently became Professor of Jewish Studies at the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.

Having served concurrently as the Anti Defamation League's Director of Interfaith Relations in Israel and as the ADL's co-liaison to the Vatican, in 1997 he was appointed to the position of Director of the ADL Israel office.

Rabbi Rosen is a founder of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel that embraces more than seventy organizations in Israel involved in interfaith relations. He is a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the normalization of relations between the two; and he serves as a member of the International Jewish Committee for Inter-Religious Consultations which represents organized World Jewry in its relations with other world religious bodies.

He is President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), the all-encompassing world inter-faith body (incorporating fifteen religions in over fifty countries), and is a charter member of the International Advisory Committee of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR). He is Honorary President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), the umbrella organization for more than thirty national bodies promoting Christian-Jewish relations. The ICCJ's Abrahamic Forum promotes dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Author: R.T. Kendall, David Rosen
Format: Paperback
Published: January 2007
ISBN-10: 0446697346
ISBN-13: 9780446697347
Aussie price: $16 from the Jews for Jesus book shop. See it and order it online if you want at books