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Mennonites and Jews

July 30th, 2010 by isaac · No Comments

I recently preached a sermon on Mennonites and Jews. I reflected on my experience of worshiping with First Mennonite in San Francisco. They rent space from a Jewish synagogue, which has led to an interesting relationship. Here’s an excerpt from the sermon:

Mennonite church in San Francisco rents space for worship from a Jewish Synagogue, Israel in exile among the Gentiles of California. The people of Israel can be God’s people anywhere, even in San Francisco, even in a building that used to be a Lutheran church—and before that, it was a funeral parlor, a house for the dead.

At first the Jews of that synagogue did not like the idea of letting Christians meet for worship in their building. And that’s quite understandable. In the name of Christ, people have persecuted and killed Jews throughout history. There are good reasons why Jewish communities would want to keep their distance.

But the Mennonites and Jews continued to talk and think about the possibility. After they developed some healthy relationships, the Jews allowed the Mennonites to use their space for worship. Now there are several Jews from the synagogue who come back for worship with the Mennonites on Sunday morning. And a few months ago, the pastor of the Mennonite church was invited to preach at the synagogue.

Their distinct lives as separate peoples are blurring together as they worship in the same building on different days: Gentiles living as renters among the Jews who are living in exile. Together, they are learning how to be a blessing for the world, for their city, for their neighbors.

Gentile Christians have a lot to learn about how to live as exiles. It only makes sense for us to turn to the Jews for help. Israel knows how to live in exile. But our reason for turning to Israel involves more than simply asking advice from people who are knowledgeable. For us as Gentile Christians, we can’t help but be linked to the Jews because we build our lives around Jesus, who was born of a Jewish mother, and was circumcised on the eight day. Our savior was and is a Jew, a child of Israel.

We have heard the call of the God of Israel, through Jesus Christ, the Word of God. And now we follow Jesus into the house of Israel, even though we are not Jews. We are in a strange position of being outsiders to God’s promises to Israel, yet also claiming to worship Israel’s God. Israel wasn’t supposed to be our home, yet we have built our home within this chosen people, as renters who have found that we can’t help but belong to God and with God’s chosen people.

For the rest of the sermon, follow this link to my church website: Jews and Mennos

Tags: sermons