Do you have a question about Messianic Judaism or want to know more about Messiah Echad? Feel free to send us an email or utilize our contact page, to tell us your thoughts. Chances are, someone else has the same question you do and we would love to provide our insight on this page. May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and give you His peace.
We are so glad that you are praying about visiting Messiah Echad, so the first thing we want you to know is how excited we will be to meet you. I Corinthians 12 speaks on the diverse and many members of the body, so as expected, we have a very mixed or heterogenous congregation, where you will likely feel right at home. Before your arrival, we invite you to browse some of our videos, read up on our beliefs and check us out on social media. Several people have asserted that doing this beforehand, eased any concerns they had and answered most questions. Along those lines, you may also want to sign yourself up to receive our monthly e-newsletter, so you can arrive with the same knowledge as our members. When you enter the building, you will probably be greeted by a member, leader or possibly even another guest… the sanctuary is directly past the foyer, through the double doors, and the bathrooms are located in the main hallway. Childcare and Shabbat School is offered although with services just over 90 minutes, and geared with families in mind, many of the youth enjoy the main service. Our monthly oneg is typically on the last Saturday of the month, so if visiting on a Shabbat outside of this, no need worry about bringing a snack or dish. Lastly and regarding attire, our men like to wear slacks and buttoned shirts, while the majority of women seem to prefer the comfort of dresses or skirts, but our group is diverse, meaning some are more formal while others casual. If you have any other questions or concerns before your visit, please do not hesitate to contact the office.
This discussion often goes hand in hand with “do we have to keep the law”, or “is respecting the law, legalism”… well, nobody has to do anything, to include obeying laws. That being said, we all know the consequences or risks of driving over the speed limit for example, and the safety or rewards we find, while driving under. Spiritually speaking, it is no different when God gives us an instruction; it is in our best interest to voluntarily obey. The complexity comes with the premise that laws were done away with, by Messiah… umm, yes, and no. When the Old Testament framed a works based SALVATION, “if you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments… I will walk among you, and be your God” (Leviticus 26:3-12), yes, Messiah did change salvation to be grace based, “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, (then) you will be saved” (Romans 10:9-10). Granted, some theologians believe Leviticus framed a “faith based salvation”, as only those with faith in God would follow said commands; lets be real. The Old Testament was much to do about, well, a lot. That being said, our works based SANCTIFICATION from the Old Testament, “You shall keep My commandments, and perform them… I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Leviticus 22:31-32), no, did not change with Messiah, since “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments… shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5:19). Furthermore, John 14:15 says if you are a believer who loves Messiah, you should keep His Commandments, out of love. So we live under grace, believing our salvation or eternal life, comes by belief in Messiah, but we sure do not want to be considered the least holy, most lawless person in heaven… hence why we also, respect the law.
Observance is a harder question to answer on the congregational level, because we encourage each family to have a personal relationship with Yahweh (God) and ask Him, what is best for their household. And this heterogeneous mindset is something we reserve, for things that do not directly affect salvation. However, to not pose as stumbling blocks (1 Corinthians 8:9), while we seek to be witnesses of the light (Ephesians 5:8), in congregational or public settings, we find it prudent to aim for torah observant or biblical, not legalistic or rabbinic. Practically speaking, this means our congregation will probably be considered “conservative”. For alcohol, though we do not liberally nor progressively promote drunkness (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:21), we do encourage gentleness and moderation (Philippians 4:5), and mainly with wine (John 2:7-9, 1 Timothy 5:23). In the case of kosher, we encourage (not force) our members to follow biblical kosher ingredient and preparation standards. Some families may decide in their homes to be more free or rigid than others, and we support their decisions to do so, but at the congregational level (i.e. a picnic) we ask for biblical kosher. Finally is modesty or apparel; for men, the bible mentions wearing the tallit but not the kippah. Many of our males will wear the tallit and some may also wear a kippah, but we also have guys who do neither. As for the women, several interpret modesty to mean dresses and covered thighs or shoulders, yet others do not, and either way, we do not mandate a standard corporately. If you have any specific questions about our observance or want to discuss what might be appropriate for you and your family, please do not hesitate to contact the Rabbi, or Rebbetzin.
Kashrut is the set of biblical laws from Leviticus 11:1-46 and Deuteronomy 14:3-21, which describe the animals that are fit for consumption, how the animals are to be slaughtered and how the meat should be prepared. Yahweh (God) laid out these laws to the Children of Israel, to sanctify them spiritually and provide for a healthier diet. Granted, Acts 10:9-16 detailed a vision where unclean animals were presented as clean, the unclean animals were not re-created nor was kashrut forever abolished… and research into that chapter, shows us the vision was about people. So, we (still) encourage a biblical respect for the dietary laws of Yahweh.
The way it works is ruminants or land animals such as cows, sheep and deer, which chew the cud and have cloven hooves, are kosher while pigs and rabbits are not. Marine animals such as tuna, salmon or herring, which have fins and scales, are kosher while shellfish, catfish and water mammals are not. Non predatory or scavenger birds such as chicken or duck are kosher while vultures and hawks are not. Finally, (honey covered) locusts are kosher (yum!) but all other reptiles, amphibians, worms and insects are not.
From the selection of kosher animals, we are instructed to only eat those that were humanely slaughtered, drained of their blood and removed of the visceral fat. We are not to combine dairy from a mother animal with meat from her offspring, but this does not preclude dairy from one species with meat from another. And although rabbinical kosher standards extend far beyond the aforementioned biblical regulations, we are encouraged to follow biblical or scriptural kosher standards, as the spirit leads. If you have any specific questions about which dishes may or may not be kosher, feel free to email the office.
Issues are something every fellowship has, ours included, so if you are seeking perfection, we invite you to carry on and study Luke 6:42. Now, if you are still here, either from not seeking the perfect place or having previously done so then giving up, let’s get down to business. Issues or offenses arise when people violate (1) God’s Laws (i.e. Idolatry) as defined in scripture, (2) Man’s Law (i.e. Vandalism) as defined in legal codes, or (3) Individual Laws (i.e. Personal Space) as defined by that person. Granted, Psalm 51:4 says all “sin” is against God, to handle this most efficiently, we must determine the main or primary victim to the aggressor’s acts.
(1) If you perceive there to be an act against God, i.e. you see Bob making profane fire, you should pull Bob aside and mention (Leviticus 10:1). If Bob stops, great… if Bob continues, ask yourself is it necessary to “carry Bob’s torch”, and if so, consult Bob’s Rabbi. Keep in mind, should the Rabbi dismiss what you still see as bad, you will then need to un-yolk yourself from fellowship (2 Corinthians 6:14). (2) If you perceive there to be an act against Man, i.e. you see Bob vandalizing a wall, you should pull Bob aside and reference the penal code violated. If Bob stops, great… if you feel Bob may relapse, or the initial act was egregious, you should render Bob to the authorities (Mark 12:17). (3) If you perceive there to be an act against an Individual, i.e. Bob hugs you inappropriately, you must first ask Bob to stop (Mathew 18:15). If Bob does, great… if Bob continues, have another person, then more, then your Pastor, speak with Bob. Finally, if you perceive your Minister to act against God, Man, or an Individual, you must approach the Minister with two witnesses, of which Messiah Echad asks at least one is another Elder (1 Timothy 5:19). After all, the Minister has much burden, and much responsibility.
We invite all individuals and families who make the decision that “your people will be my people and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16), to become members of Messiah Echad. And the process, is simply designed so that we can get to know you and so that you can get to know us, which does mean it is similar for both those who are new and those already in the faith, but it is also relatively painless. Plus we even make membership available to those at a distance or overseas… just send us an email, to get started.
So the first step is to praise and worship Yahweh (God) together, for a period of time, defined as about twelve services (three months). And during that time, we encourage those seeking local membership to connect with a chavurah or small group, to deepen the relationship on a personal level. After this introductory period, you should request a meeting with our Pastor or Rabbi, to express your alignment with our mission and vision, and demonstrate your agreement with our statements of faith, as seen on the About Us Page.
Congratulations, this would make you a confirmed member of Messiah Echad. Members can request a welcoming, mikvah (baptism) and or acknowledgment (public or private). Members are also able to consider serving the congregation, in capacities that best meet their gifts and abilities. And there is also the private page, where you can provide input on ministry direction, download audio recordings and see Messiah Echad 6:10 (list of businesses who offer discounts to ME Members). So let us become friends and fellow members!
Since the establishment of a biblical framework, non-religious or progressive alternatives have also existed, which we describe as forward thinking, non-biblical, or self focused. And as we all fight carnal desires, most people, including believers, will make at least one such decision in their lifetime (Isaiah 53:6). Sometimes these choices are basic like tattoos, to which a growing number of congregations are learning to support, in a comfortable manner. Things get a bit more complex in dealing with more involved decisions such as whether same sex couples should be allowed to adopt, to which many congregations struggle to show love or they do so with caveats. We at Messiah Echad believe Yeshua (Jesus) would instruct us to feed the lambs and tend the sheep, even if we feel that they have turned to their own ways or gone astray (John 21:15-17). Just think about it, if congregations picked and chose who they fed, based on past decisions (right and wrong), that would result in a lot of skinny sheep. Granted we do not typically encourage people to seek non-biblical lifestyles (these are arduous paths), and we often see ordained lifestyles receive more blessings than non, we reach out to all people with love and encourage them toward being, the people they were called to be.
Women have equal citizenship with Messiah (Galatians 3:28), are amazing at mentoring in small groups (Acts 18:26), excel at instructing younger females (Titus 2:3-5), and often receive the gift of prophesy (Acts 21:9, Judges 4:4). Yet despite all of this, the bible tells us to not place women in an authority over, or in a teaching capacity to, men in the congregation (I Corinthians 14:34, I Timothy 2:12). Now why would the bible do this, given all the amazing and powerful accounts of women in the scriptures? In II Chronicles 34 for example, when the long lost Book of the Law had been found, King Josiah sent his messengers to speak with a woman named Huldah, on what the Lord wanted them to do. And not only did he hear the prophetic words of Huldah, King Josiah gathered all the elders, men, inhabitants, priests and Levites, then made some decrees based on what she said. So to say Huldah indirectly instructed Josiah’s Kingdom would be an understatement (she did so much more), yet we are still instructed to teach men with other men. The bible does this, to challenge men toward accepting the role God has given them and be ready for the responsibilities of being a man. This has little to do with what a woman is, or is not, capable of doing. So our stance on women teaching in the congregation, is aligned with our instructions from the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), which says for women to refrain from teaching, or having authority over men in the congregation, to encourage our males to accept their spiritual responsibilities. And keep in mind that this does not subtract from women’s equal citizenship with Messiah, ability to teach in small groups, capability to instruct younger females, adeptness with children’s ministries and amazing gift of prophesy… we just want to help our men feel the need, for stepping up.
In the sea of biblical resources, there is simply more water than any ministry can cover; even more so, when you factor in the depths each believer discovers, through dreams and visions. We could spend our lifetimes hearing and learning about many things but what about our calling to faithfully act? Deuteronomy 5:32 and Luke 16:10 have led Messiah Echad to value the importance of faithfully focusing on that which we are entrusted, before we begin exploration into what he has given to others. It is not a matter of resources, nor is it a desire issue; we just find the best way to handle more, is by tackling less. So we are glad that you have a book to share and a story to tell… sit down and relax for a moment. We want to make sure you have the right audience and that your passions, are aligned with our mission. Maybe you have been called to navigate the Indian Ocean and after being with us for a few months, you discover we are more the Pacific type. Are you a member of a congregation or have a desire to be so at Messiah Echad? The waters can be a lot for small boats but well manned ships, can get through anything. And we often ask our members to hear our teaching on visions and dreams, before they begin sharing with us. We very much value your resource or vision that needs to be shared, so we pray you will first become a member of Messiah Echad and or take the time to see how relevant it might be, to the seas where we are called.
Even after joining the Messianic faith, we are still asked to bring our kids to an easter egg hunt, join the neighborhood in a halloween party, or cook for a christmas dinner. We may believe the aforementioned events are steeped with pagan practices, when we explain our stance, we get weird looks… for telling our kids that rabbits do not lay eggs. Fairness aside, (1) let us recall Mathew 10:34-39, where we see He has drawn a line in the sand, and wants us to pick His side, over being with mother dearest. Before we accept or decline any invitation, make sure we are on His side, then seek to unify with others, second, and only if it does not change our position. This means a non religious meal, versus an easter brunch, can be considered a spiritually acceptable alternative. Next (2), consider how Ecclesiastes 3: speaks on the many seasons people are often in, so consider that, and the time you have with someone, before deeply engaging. To the Christian Store Clerk who wishes Merry Christmas, because they are not ashamed of the gospel and want to proclaim Messiah is alive, responses such as “You Too”, “Yes!”, or “Amen!”, might be more agreeable than debate. Lastly (3), Mathew 15:3-13 says we should not allow love of traditions, or people, to cause a rejection of commandments. So for holidays that contain pagan practice(s), at the very least, work to avoid the questionable elements. In the Christmas example, since Jeremiah 10:1-5 (trees) is the main commandment being broken, in traditional observance, not bowing down under it, to place or receive gifts, would be preferred… there is likely a stick or relative nearby, which can be safely leveraged, to place or retrieve your gifts.
Ultimately, have fun with your faith. Our Rabbi definitely does, when his daughter tells people her family is not pagan, and does not do Christmas, upon their wishing her a merry one… just (1) make sure God knows your allegiance, (2) pick your battles, and (3) avoid the direct sins, or aspects thereof, where possible. Happy Holidays!