Our Precious Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua,
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob (Israel) who repent of their sins, declares the Lord.
As for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord. My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants-from this time on and forever, says the Lord” Is. 59:20, 21
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness (a dense fog Hb.) is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Is. 60:1-3
We commend to you these power-filled words of promise and exhortation as we complete this extraordinary year. These same two passages formed the basis of my last sermon for the year to the Beit Asaph community. The Advent candles (a Christian symbol) are lit one-by-one each week leading up to the celebration of the birth of the child Messiah according to the prophecy (Is.9:6.)
As seen in the photo, the Hanukkiah (a Jewish symbol) also holds prophetic significance. It is a nine-branched candelabra – 8 candles are lit one-by-one each day to commemorate the rededication of the Temple during the Maccabean wars during Yeshua’s time. The ninth candle is the Shamash, the Servant Candle that is lit first and from which the other candles are lit. What a wonderful Messianic picture! In the Gospels, Yeshua declares himself, “I am the light of the world.” And through him, we become the bearers of light, God’s truth – to Israel and to the rest of the world!
As a mixed, Jewish/ non-Jewish family (like so many in the Messianic community) we enjoy the ‘best of both worlds’ and enjoy the traditions of our respective peoples. As we embrace one another, even in our differences, we believe we express the core-values of God’s Kingdom. And this is a valuable and relevant message for Yeshua’s followers all over the world. The pandemic and the vaccination issue in particular, has divided society and divided the Body of Christ. This is a tragedy and we have seen congregations here in Israel badly impacted by these differences of opinion. We implore you, our beloved Brothers and Sisters, to not allow this to happen in your communities. Accept one another as equals and find creative solutions to allow fellowship to continue. Let’s agree to uphold one another’s communities in prayer. Let’s remember Yeshua’s prayer to the Father in John 17:21…
As leaders in our community, “Beit Asaph” we saw this coming and took steps so that Body-life would continue and flourish via our system of Life-groups. We maintain a monthly celebration service with limited participation, wherever possible. Children are born and young couples push ahead with weddings. We have celebrated five during this past year…
Natan and Katya were the last couple to be married this past week. Over the past few months, Maala and I enjoyed preparing them for their marriage. But our greatest joy was to ‘pass on the baton’ to one of our young leaders, David, to perform the ceremony. He did an exemplary job! David is in his late 20’s, married to Polina, and one of the sons of our pastoral colleagues, Lev and Ora.
As Maala and I sat with Lev and Ora this week to pray and evaluate the year that is almost over, we are more than satisfied with the results. Our Life-groups are flourishing, we have been able to hold monthly sessions of ‘worship in the garden’ our monthly celebration services continue, the youth and children’s activities are well-attended and fruitful, and women’s gatherings are continuing successfully on a regular basis. These, together with numbers of small active prayer groups in the congregation, make for a healthy and vibrant community life, despite the ongoing restrictions. You cannot know how grateful we are for your continued words of encouragement and prayer!
Two years ago as we flew to NZ for a three-month break (supposedly) we agreed to return and begin the process of forming a team of pastoral advisors. These younger men and women would provide wise support for Lev and Evan and in time, future pastor(s) could potentially emerge. Of course Covid interrupted this process as other priorities took over. Now, finally the team has been formed and is taking its first steps…and it is wonderful! Please keep the two David’s, Olga and Georgi in prayer for us. We are extremely fortunate to have such gifted people serving alongside us in the Beit Asaph community.
We finish the year, tired but very grateful for daily grace. Nothing is taken for granted and every good thing, no matter how small, brings us joy.
God willing, we will fly to NZ on December 31 via Dubai. Now that ‘flight corridors’ have opened up for us via the Gulf States we feel confident to take a well-earned break. Pioneering work, as this past 14 months has been since our return in October 2020, is exciting and rewarding. But it is also exhausting and we are no longer youngsters! A bit of R&R in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, NZ will be just what the doctor ordered. Even a week in MIQ after the long flights might not be a bad thing to get us into ‘holiday mode.’ We (Evan and Maala) would greatly appreciate you remembering us in prayer for safe travel and refreshment.
God bless you and your families and communities as you prepare for the Christmas season. Make the most of it! And remember the encouraging words of the Prophet as we began this letter.
Thank you all for continuing to stand with us,
Evan and Lev