Welcome to the Romans 15:8 leaders' Blog for March. As we all know these are restrictive and challenging times for all us - especially for those in pastoral leadership. I hope this network can help to offer some support during this time. Please do use the comments options to open up discussions and conversations with each other - or you can email me directly on email@example.com
CMJ UK has made a number of statements about the virus and the implications for our ministry. You can read these via the Blog page on this website. Also you will find a ten point prayer guide which has been provided by SIM and shared by our colleagues at Global Connections. I hope you may find this a helpful resource. The CMJ UK staff team has been using this guide during some of our daily staff prayer meetings (via Zoom) over the past few days.
It seems to me that we often perceive the Church as a gathered community - there are many New Testament passages which point to this understanding - for example Hebrews 10:25, Romans 16:5 and Acts 20;7; yet there are also references to the Church being a scattered community. Maybe as a result of the restrictions placed upon us, the Church is in many ways scattered today. Yet being scattered does not make us any less the Church, and this scattering can also bring opportunities to share the Gospel and to share fellowship in new and creative ways. It will be good to hear of how your Church community is adjusting to this new reality.
Teaching reflection of the Month (March)
A few days ago the current Olive Press Research Paper (OPRP) should have popped through your letter box along with other CMJ publicity. These are sent free of charge to all CMJ members (please sign up today if you would like to be a member or simply email me with your postal address and I will send you a complimentary copy of the Olive Press Research Paper).
This current paper was written by me and is titled - Knowing Jesus in His Jewish Context (Issue 40, 2020). I hope you will find this a good teaching resource as you explore the Biblical references and the wider reflection I offer in this study. Please let me know what you think about this paper and please share with me any insights or questions you may have arising from it. It is always helpful to get such feedback.
Ministry News Update
The main news from me is that I have postponed my sabbatical (see website statement for details) and along with my colleagues I am working from home and trying to get to terms with new technology and working patterns.
I have been able to make significant progress with my new CMJ book - 60 Days with Romans. The book is now at the final proofreading stage. I am also preparing the staff/public lecture which is based on Psalm 51.
I have just completed reading a book by Paul Levertoff - The religious Thoughts of the Chassidim (Vine of David, 2017 - translated from the German text published in 1918). This book is part of the Messianic Luminaries Series and is published and distributed as part of the ministry of First Fruits of Zion.
This book makes use of the original sources as it explores the Chasidic teaching of salvation with a focus on thirteen areas: Knowledge of God, Love of God, Self-Knowledge, Fear of God, The Love for God, Humility, Joy, The Law (Torah) Prayer, Love toward Man, The Struggle of the Two Souls in Man, Repentance and Redemption. In addition to this there are seven articles placed as appendices which includes a very insightful article on the Messianic Idea in Apocalyptic-Kabbalistic circles.
Following on from this is a biography of Paul Levertoff (this biography was not part of the original 1918 publication). This fascinating and inspiring biography takes us from his birth in 1878 in the province of Vitepsk (Northern White Russia) through his rabbinical training in the Volozhin Yshivah, then onto his baptism as a Messianic Jew/Christian and up to his ministry at Holy Trinity Church, Shoreditch.
This life story in itself is well worth reading; Paul Levertoff is someone you just sense would have been such a privilege to have met - his intellect was immense as was his courage. His Gospel centred ministry was so far ranging including fighting against fascism, pastoral care, leadership and pioneering liturgical writing. Also the fact that just before his death he arose from his bed to dance the Chasidic dance of Joy marks him out as someone special! However, it is his ideas and vision for a ‘bridge Church’ (a Synagogue within the Church?) which would combine intellectual freedom alongside ecclesiastical authority which makes this biography so relevant for all involved in Jewish mission today. In some ways his vision can be seen as an early catalyst for some aspects of the Messianic Jewish movement today. His vision was seriously promoted by many within the International Hebrew Christian Alliance and the wider Church, yet this vision never bore the fruit which Levertoff longed for, or at least not yet!
I strongly urge all those not familiar with Paul Levertoff to read this book, it will be especially helpful for those seeking to witness into the Orthodox Jewish world today. This book will also be complemented by reading the book by Jonathan Allen, A Profile of Jewish Believers in the UK Church (Wipf & Stock, 2018) alongside three Olive Press Research Papers - Root and Branch by Alex Jacob (Issue 6, 2007) , One size does not fit all by Adrian Glasspole (Issue 13, 2012) and Understanding Hasidic Jews by Michael Eldridge (Issues 30/31 2016).
Monthly Bible Memory Verse:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20 - verses taken from MJFB)