Recently, we had a special service at our synagogue in which we invited not only other Messianic Jewish congregations but also may Christian congregations. In preparation for this service, we had meetings with the different people who would be involved in the different aspects of the service: from the worship team, which was made up of people from different congregations, to the people who would handle the presentation slides and videos. We were all very excited about the possibilities of the service as people from all over our area would be combined together as one voice of praise.
As the day approached for service, as with most other things we do, what I call "ministry opportunities" (others call them problems and some call them crises) arose. People who were supposed to do certain things were unable to do them. Nursery workers could not be found. There were numerous logistical issues, and one pastor who was planning on live-streaming a video from Israel was unable to get the technology to cooperate.
The closer we got to the service, the more "ministry opportunities" came forth. Every time one fire was quenched, another started. In the midst of all the trying to deal with "ministry opportunities" while at the same time keep up with normal ministry and also continue making sure that everything else was still moving forward, it would have been very easy to simply look at the problems and decide they were too many to even consider having the special service. We couldn't find anyone to do the nursery, we had sound system issues, our main worship leader was suffering from an illness affecting her voice, and the pastor of the church that was co-sponsoring the service was unable to video in his message—and those were only the logistical issues.
The spiritual attacks were many. People complaining that we should not be having the service at all, "At least not with those people." There were people that were upset because they would not be singing with the worship team. There were people who were upset because their pastor/leader wasn't going to be speaking. There were people who didn't want Hebrew in the service, and people who wanted more Hebrew during the service. People who were offended because we would not be having Davidic dance as a part or the service and those who are offended that we always have dance in our service. The list of hurt feelings and jealous hearts is too long to list in this article.
The truth is that I started to wonder with all of the tzuris (troubles and woes) that had been collectively stirred up, would anything positive take place during the service? In other words, had we humans complained and fought so much that G-D would just skip the service and show up somewhere where people were behaving in a way that welcomed His presence?
Then I remembered all of the times in the wilderness when the Children of Israel complained to Moses about everything: from who was in charge and why to what they wanted to eat. Yet in the midst of all of their complaints and lack of faith, G-D always showed up. It was when the people were complaining about being stuck between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army that G-D parted the waters. It was when the people complained about the bitter waters that G-D made them sweet. It was when the people complained about the manna and cried out for meat that G-D filled the 70 with the Ruach (Spirit) and they prophesied. Over and over in the middle of some of the most bitter complaining, at times when the people of G-D saw nothing but problems, was when some of the most dramatic miracles took place.
This was not to teach us that the way to get G-D to work miracles is to throw childish temper tantrums. No, not at all! It is to teach us that G-D's promises are not affected by our actions. In the case of our service, G-D showed up, and we had one of the most powerful Spirit-filled times of worship I have ever experienced in my life. There are two reasons why. First, because we gathered together on one of His appointed times, Shavuot (Pentecost). Second, because His Word promises in Psalms 22:3, "But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel" and Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are assembled in My name, there I am in their midst."
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer and Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians.
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