01 October 2011

A fairly ornate synagogue

A fairly ornate synagogue by bobmendo
A fairly ornate synagogue, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

I visited Marseilles France in 2009, and went to this synagogue. The levels of beauty struck me, The generations of history were evident. Even though there are tens of thousands of Israel's enemies within a few kilometers outside, I felt safe. All told, this is good stuff. It was ornate and yet, something said, 'empty.'

Today is Shabbat Shuva, the Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a day of solemn introspection. Or so it is for many. For others neither of those marker holidays has any meaning. For others it's that time of year when Jews get to have their 'day in the sun' but otherwise it's insignificant. For many, this is a holy time of year.

And this synagogue and so many like it around the world, where I've visited and where I haven't... all say to me in measure 'empty.' Where does that come from?

Jesus is recorded in the book of St Matthew: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23.37-39)

This was spoken 40 years before the Temple ('our house') was destroyed by Titus and the Roman invaders/ conquerors. (which occurred in 70 AD). Y'shua (the Hebrew way to say Jesus) is predicting a couple significant things.

1) He's saying that we will not have 'our house' much longer and that what we do have after that will be empty and desolate. and
2) He's saying that His return is based on a particular response by "Jerusalem" (usually meaning "Jewish leadership"). That response is in modern Hebrew: "welcome." Y'shua is saying that He will remain reserved in the heavens until enough of the Jewish leadership says 'welcome' to Him. That day is coming.

All that said, to say that although Jewish synagogues this week are filled with congregants and although ornate in measure, they are given the appellation "desolate." And I can understand why.

It's not the numbers of people that makes a place empty or filled. It's the presence of the Almighty. For that I long for my people. For that Y'shua longed. "Oh Jerusalem" he lamented. He longed to gather Jewish people to Himself. He longed to care for them like a mother hen gathers her chicks. But she was unwilling.

Friend, don't be unwilling. Welcome Him who wants to welcome you. Whether you meet Him in a shack or a full synagogue, welcome Y'shua. There (and there alone) is life abundant.

No comments: