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Have you ever wanted your Christian walk to be more "jewish"?


bethben
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Just wanted to add... in general, Jews are uneasy with this, as many thoughtful Christian denominations have become.

 

Perhaps a Jewish leader could come in and teach your congregation about Passover and its observances? Because when Christians put together their own seder, it tends (naturally) to reflect their own Christian beliefs and a pretty inauthentic view of both historical and modern Judaism. The seder has changed significantly in the last 2000 years, so to take today's Jewish rituals and superimpose them on the lives of the early Christians is both anachronistic and disrespectful.

 

It would sort of be like Jews re-enacting critical Christian sacraments or observances, badly, while completely misunderstanding their meaning to Christians - like putting up a Christmas tree and saying it commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, for instance (of course it doesn't, but neither do the 3 matzahs on the seder plate represent the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, which some Christians claim).

 

Far better (as some Jewish groups do) to invite in a real Christian to demonstrate and talk about what those sacraments mean to him/her.

 

Uh, you point out the very reason that Christians shouldn't do a modern Seder and why having a Rabbi come in would not work - the ritual has changed in the 2000 since Jesus celebrated it. When Jesus sat down with all thirteen disciples there was lamb on the plate, which modern Jews don't do since the most recent destruction of the Temple.

 

I've been to over a dozen Seders done by Christians and never once been told that the Matzoh is about the Trinity.

 

I think it is important to remember that Judaism is much more than a religion. It is a cultural heritage. This is sort of like saying, "my heritage is boring, I want to follow the Native American traditions instead of my own."

 

I have to strongly disagree with this. What would you say to people who are of Jewish or Native American/First Nations heritage who DON'T identify with the culture they were raised in and seek out what may have been denied them due to institutional prejudice?

 

AS has been pointed out - being Jewish is not just a religion and not just a cultural heritage. Most of the people I know who self-identify as Jews are religiously practicing Buddhists. Many of the religious Jews I know are converts. Are either group less or more than the other?

 

Let me be a bit more specific. I have Jewish ancestors way far back. No one had any idea in my modern family about this heritage, but there it is. At the time those ancestors converted it was done by coercion. Does that mean I have no right to explore my Jewish heritage? As a Christian does that mean I have to ignore the history of a Mikveh in the ceremony of Baptism?

 

Without Judaism there is no Christianity or Islam. To remain ignorant of the foundation is to be ignorant period.

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Beth - The good news is you don't have to convert to the Jewish faith to have a more meaningful Christian walk. You don't have to co-op Jewish holidays. You don't even have to convert to a liturgical church. Although it may be helpful to follow a liturgical calendar. (I picked that one because I know it is thorough, not specifically because it is Catholic).

 

Since Advent is the start of the new liturgical year, liturgical calendars will generally start in December. Like the one I liked above. Since Advent is over you can just skip ahead to the end of page 11. There is pretty much something going on every day. Like today is the memorial of the doctors of the church. I think that is something universal that even non-Catholic Christians will understand. Using the calendar you can spend your daily focus on some of the things the doctors of the church taught us about Christianity.

 

There are a lot of saint days. Skip those if you feel the need to do so. Focus on the bigger events surrounding Christianity. Looks like the next big day is the Baptism of the Lord on the 13th. Start preparing now to make that day meaningful. Gather Bible readings for your family, drink water instead of whatever you usually drink during the day as a reminder of Jesus' baptism, light a candle, make a special meal.

 

Go down the list. The day of prayer on the 22nd for the unborn may be something you can do as a family. Perhaps fasting on that day or in some way making it meaningful to your family.

 

Continue through the calendar for each significant day.

 

And yes, Holy Week is busy at most liturgical churches. I find that people who have walked away from a liturgical church as adults after attending as children only remember the "going extra days" not what the days were about or even why they were in church the extra days. Each of those days commemorates something important that occurred during Jesus life and we are in church (and should also continue before and after the doors open) remember why and how He lived and died for us. If one knows the history of it, one knows Holy Thursday is one of the most important religious observances next to the Easter Vigil.

 

Christianity has a very rich heritage full of beauty and ritual. Sadly, I've seen some pretty watered down versions in some non-Catholic Christian churches. It is good that you and your family are searching for more meaning within your faith. You don't have to leave your church to find more fullness of faith. But don't be surprised if your journey takes you down that path.

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Christianity has a very rich heritage full of beauty and ritual. Sadly, I've seen some pretty watered down versions in some non-Catholic Christian churches. It is good that you and your family are searching for more meaning within your faith. You don't have to leave your church to find more fullness of faith. But don't be surprised if your journey takes you down that path.

 

 

Yours is a great message, Chucki.

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This made me chuckle a little bit. My multi-year intellectual approach to faith wore me out spiritually, so I was more than a little pleased to discover the "unintellectual" (hee hee) East. I like "sticking closely to the traditional piety [we] inherited from Judaism." :D

 

 

 

I thought she was saying that the RC'ers stuck closely to Judaism and we were the ones influenced by the Pagans. I found the whole statement a bit confusing. :p

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I am not sure quite how to put this best, but I would encourage you to try them again--my suspician is that you will find meaning in them that you may not have realized was present in your childhood. That is very common in all liturgical churches, not only Lutheran ones--I have heard it from those with Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Episcopal backgrounds as well as Lutheran ones.

:iagree:

 

Just as a for instance...Holy Week means tremendously more to me now that it did when I was a kid. As a kid it was mostly a relief to be past the depressing Lenten music and misery. Now I find tremendous value in Lent and appreciate Holy Week more than ever.

 

:iagree:

 

I used to think that Easter should be a much bigger deal than most Protestant churches make it out to be. And the Catholic Holy Week...wow...it knocks my socks off. And we get more than just one-day celebrations of Christmas and Easter, too. We get a liturgical year that helps us stay focussed on the things of God all year long--Advent, and Christmas--which between them take up about two months--and Lent, and Easter--ditto--and feast days and oh, so much more.

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Christianity has a very rich heritage full of beauty and ritual. Sadly, I've seen some pretty watered down versions in some non-Catholic Christian churches. It is good that you and your family are searching for more meaning within your faith. You don't have to leave your church to find more fullness of faith. But don't be surprised if your journey takes you down that path.

 

 

First of all, thank you for linking that calendar. I love it! Secondly, I wish I could super-like your post. It was fantastic. :)

Yours is a great message, Chucki.

 

 

:iagree:

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Christianity has a very rich heritage full of beauty and ritual. Sadly, I've seen some pretty watered down versions in some non-Catholic Christian churches. It is good that you and your family are searching for more meaning within your faith. You don't have to leave your church to find more fullness of faith. But don't be surprised if your journey takes you down that path.

 

At the risk of offending even more people than I already have - yes! :thumbup:

 

As a very widely-read & experienced Jew, the place I feel most comfortable within Christianity is Roman Catholicism. I doubt I will ever leave Judaism, but, although it feels utterly foreign to me, of all the Christian denominations I have experienced, it also feels the most familiar in that it's built on a wealth of traditions and a solid, ancient foundation. Certainly, I know about its fractured past and the legitimate reasons for the Reformation and its troubles pre- and post-Post-Vatican II... but I still believe that if Christians knew and celebrated the sacramentality of their own faith, they'd be too busy to envy others' path.

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Beth - The good news is you don't have to convert to the Jewish faith to have a more meaningful Christian walk. You don't have to co-op Jewish holidays. You don't even have to convert to a liturgical church. Although it may be helpful to follow a liturgical calendar. (I picked that one because I know it is thorough, not specifically because it is Catholic).

 

Since Advent is the start of the new liturgical year, liturgical calendars will generally start in December. Like the one I liked above. Since Advent is over you can just skip ahead to the end of page 11. There is pretty much something going on every day. Like today is the memorial of the doctors of the church. I think that is something universal that even non-Catholic Christians will understand. Using the calendar you can spend your daily focus on some of the things the doctors of the church taught us about Christianity.

 

There are a lot of saint days. Skip those if you feel the need to do so. Focus on the bigger events surrounding Christianity. Looks like the next big day is the Baptism of the Lord on the 13th. Start preparing now to make that day meaningful. Gather Bible readings for your family, drink water instead of whatever you usually drink during the day as a reminder of Jesus' baptism, light a candle, make a special meal.

 

Go down the list. The day of prayer on the 22nd for the unborn may be something you can do as a family. Perhaps fasting on that day or in some way making it meaningful to your family.

 

Continue through the calendar for each significant day.

 

And yes, Holy Week is busy at most liturgical churches. I find that people who have walked away from a liturgical church as adults after attending as children only remember the "going extra days" not what the days were about or even why they were in church the extra days. Each of those days commemorates something important that occurred during Jesus life and we are in church (and should also continue before and after the doors open) remember why and how He lived and died for us. If one knows the history of it, one knows Holy Thursday is one of the most important religious observances next to the Easter Vigil.

 

Christianity has a very rich heritage full of beauty and ritual. Sadly, I've seen some pretty watered down versions in some non-Catholic Christian churches. It is good that you and your family are searching for more meaning within your faith. You don't have to leave your church to find more fullness of faith. But don't be surprised if your journey takes you down that path.

 

Love, love, love this post. So, a "like" wasn't enough. :D

 

Being a cradle Catholic (through a Catholic university) and then switching to non-denom churches when I married my dh 22 years ago, I have recently returned to the fold, so to speak, via the Anglican church. What a RELIEF to be back to the liturgical calendar! I am so pleased with the focus the church puts on holy days, saints' days, etc. I knew this, having been raised in the faith, but I'd kind of forgotten over the past two decades. My biggest sadness about those churches is that to me, they seem to have thrown the baby out with the bath water.

 

I wish my kids were younger and could have been raised with the liturgical calendar...the natural rhythms of the yearly seasons are so thoughtful and filled with meaning, self-reflection, outward-reaching, philanthropy, quiet reflection and joyful music & praising.

 

On the other hand, perhaps they can learn to appreciate it more than I did as a kid with 16 years of Catholic education under by belt. I often wish I'd never left; I often praise God for bringing me back. I NEVER lost my faith, and my years in non-denom churches instilled a love of the bible that I will always treasure and indulge.

 

Love being back. :wub:

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Uh, you point out the very reason that Christians shouldn't do a modern Seder and why having a Rabbi come in would not work - the ritual has changed in the 2000 since Jesus celebrated it. When Jesus sat down with all thirteen disciples there was lamb on the plate, which modern Jews don't do since the most recent destruction of the Temple.

 

rabbit trail warning

Ok...wait...13 disciples????

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Yeap, I was wrong. Reasons why religious education needs to be taught by people who know what they are talking about. I had been taught in Sunday School - many moons ago- that the reason the number thirteen was unlucky was because Jesus had thirteen disciples when he was betrayed.

 

On the other hand, my Mom and I were talking about my mistake and she said "I'm fine with you saying there are thirteen. While not explicitly stated Mary Magdalene was likely there and I've always viewed her as one of the disciples. Really, it's not like they had a catered Passover, so who did the cooking?!"

 

I love having a Feminist mother with a Masters of Divinity and a near half-century of heavy duty studies with involvement in the church to explain away my mistakes : D

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Yeap, I was wrong. Reasons why religious education needs to be taught by people who know what they are talking about. I had been taught in Sunday School - many moons ago- that the reason the number thirteen was unlucky was because Jesus had thirteen disciples when he was betrayed.

 

On the other hand, my Mom and I were talking about my mistake and she said "I'm fine with you saying there are thirteen. While not explicitly stated Mary Magdalene was likely there and I've always viewed her as one of the disciples. Really, it's not like they had a catered Passover, so who did the cooking?!"

 

I love having a Feminist mother with a Masters of Divinity and a near half-century of heavy duty studies with involvement in the church to explain away my mistakes : D

 

In Orthodoxy she has a special sub-title, Mary Magdalene, Equal to the Apostles. ;) I think I like your mother. :D

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I thought she was saying that the RC'ers stuck closely to Judaism and we were the ones influenced by the Pagans. I found the whole statement a bit confusing. :p

Sorry about that! What I was trying to say -- based on my very slight understanding, from reading & conversations with an Eastern Catholic priest -- is that in the early centuries, Greek-speaking Christians had a reputation for being more open than Latin-speaking ones to speculations that incorporated non-Christian ideas, especially those of Plato. For instance, the Catechetical School of Alexandria seems to have been up to a lot of this sort of thing.

 

As for how much this speculation might have influenced Christian theological formulations, that's a whole other can of worms that I'd prefer to keep closed -- both because it's a controversial subject, and because I'm a bear of very little brain when it comes to either Patristics or Greek philosophy, let alone the two of them at once. ;)

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Sorry about that! What I was trying to say -- based on my very slight understanding, from reading & conversations with an Eastern Catholic priest -- is that in the early centuries, Greek-speaking Christians had a reputation for being more open than Latin-speaking ones to speculations that incorporated non-Christian ideas, especially those of Plato. For instance, the Catechetical School of Alexandria seems to have been up to a lot of this sort of thing.

 

As for how much this speculation might have influenced Christian theological formulations, that's a whole other can of worms that I'd prefer to keep closed -- both because it's a controversial subject, and because I'm a bear of very little brain when it comes to either Patristics or Greek philosophy, let alone the two of them at once. ;)

 

 

No problem!!! :D

 

If you are interested? One of the reasons I converted to EO instead of RC was it's openness to "Mystery." Not, that RC doesn't embrace it as well, but you are correct in that the Latin West took a very intellectual approach to theology. EO, OTOH, has an extreme depth of intellectual/thinking/deep philosophers, but they are left in the realm of great teachers and not turned into Dogmas.

 

So, while I do see an equally deep intellectual tradition in the East, it is not formalized as it is in the West. Having come out of very spiritually abusive system this was an incredible blessing for me to discover. I hope that makes sense! :D

 

I do not mean this as a downer against RC, but for someone with my background discovering this difference was comforting. I can freely say that if EO was not an option for me I would be RC. :)

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I don't care how nondenominational you are--Passover still carries enormous significance to the Christian faith. Jesus was the ultimate Paschal Lamb. What could be more fundamental to the Christian faith than that?

 

 

Thank you. This says it perfectly. We have observed Passover for several years, and it is a deeply moving experience to see how the Passover foreshadows Christ. We don't do it because we're trying to "follow the Law" or score any points with God. We do it freely and willingly because it is such a beautiful way to experience His redemptive plan. It is as meaningful and celebratory for us as observing Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. There is nothing legalistic about it, and I believe that God is glorified in it.

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I don't care how nondenominational you are--Passover still carries enormous significance to the Christian faith. Jesus was the ultimate Paschal Lamb. What could be more fundamental to the Christian faith than that? Jesus' death means nothing except in the context of a final Passover sacrifice.

 

Hmm... I wasn't going to comment on this except another person did and I couldn't let it just sit there.

In my opinion, this comment does violence to the actual meaning of the festival. Perhaps you could call your commemoration something else? ;-)

 

Because Passover already has several meanings and observances that this definition completely overlooks:

 

"And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes."

 

"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial"

 

"Remember this day, in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage"

 

"seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread"

 

 

 

The Hebrew Bible offers no concept of the "ultimate Paschal Lamb." Indeed, it never says that the lamb should be anything other than a literal lamb or goat. True, the literal lamb/goat is a reminder that we were passed over and spared in Egypt (and perhaps metaphorically since), but because the concept of Original Sin is a Christian innovation, there was never any requirement for an "ultimate" sacrifice of any kind.

 

Now, you could say that you are ADDING a layer of meaning, but to do so while completely overlooking the other layers (presuming you are not interested in becoming Jewish - because that's who was spared in Egypt - or in following the laws set out in the same Hebrew verses) seems a little odd.

 

To have an interest in Passover as something Jesus observed, as the season in which he possibly died - those things are interesting and perhaps valuable to your Christian walk. But don't be surprised, if you metamorphose it by stripping its observances and adding a totally new meaning, that you may offend those who have never stopped observing the original festival in (as much as possible) the original way.

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I imagine it would be impossible to not offend someone who believes the Messiah has not come when observing the festivals in the context of recognizing their foreshadowing of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Now, don't be surprised if Christians are disappointed that despite all the prophesies and the symbolism and the foreshadowing rituals some still don't accept Christ.

 

Really can't be helped. Some believed, some did not. I'm sure the folks who don't believe in the God of Abraham at all are offended by lots of stuff Christians and Hebrews both observe.

 

Bottom line, Christians study the Old Testament and accept it as the Word and history of their God so they are going to use it- others might like to claim it as exclusively their own but it's just not.

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I guess I feel like my walk with Christ isn't dependent upon an outward show of ritual as much as my private relationship with Him. It just seems to me that Christ wasn't very big on religious rituals, but more interested in the private, more intimate things like remembering him when we eat and drink, our personal, private prayer life, and walking like Him in our daily life and dealings with others.

 

I felt as you do recently and in an effort to improve our family's spiritual life, I asked my dh to step-up as the spiritual head of our family and lead us. He did. We now have a special prayer time every day at noon, before lunch, where we go to our respective private places and pray for 7 minutes. We also do family Bible time each night after dinner. We usually use the Holy Bible app on my Kindle Fire HD which reads 2 chapters (audio) and then we discuss what was read. This also counts as the 2nd part of dd's Bible class. We also pray before meals and whenever a big decision has to be made. In the mornings, at the opening of our school day, we get together to say the pledges to the flag, Christian flag, and Bible. Then we go into my dh's office (he works from home) and we sing a worship song and pray. Afterwards, dd and I go into the living room and read a Bible passage followed by discussion. At night, before dd goes to bed, we get together to pray with her. We have also discussed possibly trying to fast (not dd) one meal a day once a week.

 

Lastly, we try to reflect Christ privately and when out in public. Personally, I struggle with keeping my tongue when I'm annoyed by something, so I'm working on this and try to pray silently when dealing with someone who is annoying me. It's a real struggle and I fail -- alot; but I ask forgiveness and keep trying. We all have faults, but knowing they are sins and constantly striving to correct them is part of what makes us Christian.

 

All of these are private rituals endorsed by Christ. He said we would stay close to Him by staying in his Word (which is His flesh), prayer and fasting. So that's what we are trying to do.

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I guess I feel like my walk with Christ isn't dependent upon an outward show of ritual as much as my private relationship with Him. It just seems to me that Christ wasn't very big on religious rituals, but more interested in the private, more intimate things like remembering him when we eat and drink, our personal, private prayer life, and walking like Him in our daily life and dealings

 

I have to respectfully disagree with this. The gospels are full of examples of how Jesus participated in the Jewish religious festivals and observances. As an observant Jew how could He do anything but? The Last Supper was a Passover Seder.

 

 

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I guess I feel like my walk with Christ isn't dependent upon an outward show of ritual as much as my private relationship with Him. It just seems to me that Christ wasn't very big on religious rituals, but more interested in the private, more intimate things like remembering him when we eat and drink, our personal, private prayer life, and walking like Him in our daily life and dealings with others.

 

Not picking on you or others that feel the same, I used to feel the same.:) But regarding your first sentence I would say that public ritual bolsters my private relationship with Christ. For me there is something very powerful about participating in the cycle of the church year in my faith community. The next sentence I would also disagree, I don't think it's an either/or I think it's a both/and. I'm also going to agree with some other posters in that the Christian faith has its own wonderful cycle of feasts/fast/rituals etc and we don't need to co-opt others, there is more than enough there already.:)

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I guess I feel like my walk with Christ isn't dependent upon an outward show of ritual as much as my private relationship with Him. It just seems to me that Christ wasn't very big on religious rituals, but more interested in the private, more intimate things like remembering him when we eat and drink, our personal, private prayer life, and walking like Him in our daily life and dealings with others.

 

I felt as you do recently and in an effort to improve our family's spiritual life, I asked my dh to step-up as the spiritual head of our family and lead us. He did. We now have a special prayer time every day at noon, before lunch, where we go to our respective private places and pray for 7 minutes. We also do family Bible time each night after dinner. We usually use the Holy Bible app on my Kindle Fire HD which reads 2 chapters (audio) and then we discuss what was read. This also counts as the 2nd part of dd's Bible class. We also pray before meals and whenever a big decision has to be made. In the mornings, at the opening of our school day, we get together to say the pledges to the flag, Christian flag, and Bible. Then we go into my dh's office (he works from home) and we sing a worship song and pray. Afterwards, dd and I go into the living room and read a Bible passage followed by discussion. At night, before dd goes to bed, we get together to pray with her. We have also discussed possibly trying to fast (not dd) one meal a day once a week.

 

Lastly, we try to reflect Christ privately and when out in public. Personally, I struggle with keeping my tongue when I'm annoyed by something, so I'm working on this and try to pray silently when dealing with someone who is annoying me. It's a real struggle and I fail -- alot; but I ask forgiveness and keep trying. We all have faults, but knowing they are sins and constantly striving to correct them is part of what makes us Christian.

 

All of these are private rituals endorsed by Christ. He said we would stay close to Him by staying in his Word (which is His flesh), prayer and fasting. So that's what we are trying to do.

 

 

I have a genuine question. It is something that has come up in a discussion I have had with other non-traditional Christians. From reading your post it sounds like you are coming up with your own religious rituals. You are taking good and healthy Christian principals and turning them into religious rituals. So, (not trying to be offensive) but why are yours better than those used by Christians for thousands of years?

 

On another note, why would Jesus not have been "big" on rituals? It seems the Gospels are enmeshed in the religious observances of his culture. I will be honest I am a bit confused by your post.

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I have a genuine question. It is something that has come up in a discussion I have had with other non-traditional Christians. From reading your post it sounds like you are coming up with your own religious rituals. You are taking good and healthy Christian principals and turning them into religious rituals. So, (not trying to be offensive) but why are yours better than those used my Christians for thousands of years?

 

On another note, why would Jesus not have been "big" on rituals? It seems the Gospels are enmeshed in the religious observances of his culture. I will be honest I am a bit confused by your post.

 

 

I so remember right before I became Catholic, I was frantically adding rituals that I didn't realize WERE ritual, just as you say, and I was always feeling like I had to reinvent the wheel...heh.

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True, the literal lamb/goat is a reminder that we were passed over and spared in Egypt (and perhaps metaphorically since), but because the concept of Original Sin is a Christian innovation, there was never any requirement for an "ultimate" sacrifice of any kind.

 

 

Orthodox Christians do not believe in Original Sin. My priest taught me that it was a western innovation within Christianity, not a "Christian Innovation." We believe Christ conquered death by death.

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I majored in Jewish studies in uni because I wanted to learn more about the Jewish roots of Christianity. I don't see it as adopting a culture so much as understanding the reference point of Jesus and the first believers. It is powerful to be able to put your mind in theirs to some extent, and examine the scriptures from that standpoint.

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I know that doing things in a certain way will not gain us more favor with God, but there's something about being intentional with our faith that we really long for....Part of it is that dh and I are just burnt out with same old same old. We are just looking for "different" but are unsure of what that looks like and thus unsure about how to go about it. We don't want legalism and we don't want loosey goosey Christianity either.

 

These portions of your post really jumped out at me, and I relate to these descriptions of where you are at with my own Christian journey. Two years ago the "same old same old," was taking it's tole on my Christian walk in the form of church programs, fads, leaders (authors/pastors/influences) which made their way into and out of the church for a good purpose, which was to edify and build up the body of Christ, but for me all that was just wearing me down. I couldn't reconcile all the influences that came into the church where one guy says "this," and another guy says "that," and there wasn't enough consistency, agreement, or evidence to me that all these programs and leaders were being directly influenced by the Holy Spirit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I thought they were of an evil spirit or something, but the lack of agreement on major points just made me think, "How can all these men who say different things be directed by the Holy Spirit?" I got to a point where I couldn't read any more Christian books or attend any more seminars or participate in any more church programs. I took about a year off and pulled away completely from all authors and programs, etc. It was nice to spend a year off of all that stuff and just "be." But then I felt a distinct need for something. I thought to myself, "if I can't read anymore authors, participate in any programs, or attend anymore seminars without wanting to pull my hair out, then what CAN I do to in this Christian walk thing? Who can I listen to? What can I read, and if it's the Bible only, then who will interpret it for me? How do I know what the Bible means?"

 

This experience led me to post on the General Board and ask what I should do with my Christian walk from here. I got some really great replies (many, many pages) and a couple of ladies introduced me to Orthodox Christianity. I had never heard of such a thing. I was scared. I didn't want to change churches or go down a totally different path. But, I was so much at a dead end I decided to look it up and listen to some podcasts. I dialed up Ancient Faith Radio and the Foundations of the Orthodox Faith series and my husband and I listened to hour after hour of what it looks like to be an Orthodox Christian. Then we listened to Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, which instructed us on church history and why western (American) Christianity looks the way it does today. My eyes were opened so wide I could not go back to the way I was practicing Christianity before (well I didn't want to go back to that anyway), but now I had something to dive into.

 

So many of the questions that were in the back of my mind throughout my entire Christian walk were answered, such questions as: what happened to miracles, why does the church look so different today than it did in the book of the Acts, what's the deal with fasting, why does Jesus say to the man who asked for salvation that he should sell all he has and give it to the poor (who does that?), what about our form of worship - where did that come from and is that how Jesus established worship to be, what do the words of Jesus mean (they seem so hard to do), and on and on...question upon question was answered for me in the history, practice, and the lives of those who lived and live within the Orthodox Church.

 

So, a year and a half later on Pascha of last year I and my family were baptized (our oldest child a few months later than the rest of us). I'm not going to lie, it was and continues to be the hardest path I've had to walk thus far in my life. It's not easy being an Orthodox Christian and I believe that the enemy of our souls is particularly upset that we became Orthodox. We have had several very unpleasant (to say the least) experiences since then, and they continue to dog us. However, now with the strength of the Orthodox Church and the 2,000 years of history and examples to look to, and of course the help of the Holy Spirit, and all that the Church has to offer in the cycle of fasts and feast days, I feel more help than ever in my Christian walk.

 

I hope you find exactly what you need to be completely close and united to God in Christ. May God grant you peace and grace in this journey to you and your family. Feel free to PM me if you want to chat.

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OP, my answer to what I think is the spirit of your question is a resounding "yes."

 

I guess I feel like my walk with Christ isn't dependent upon an outward show of ritual as much as my private relationship with Him. ...

 

I felt as you do recently and in an effort to improve our family's spiritual life, I asked my dh to step-up as the spiritual head of our family and lead us. He did. We now have a special prayer time every day at noon, before lunch, where we go to our respective private places and pray for 7 minutes. We also do family Bible time each night after dinner. We usually use the Holy Bible app on my Kindle Fire HD which reads 2 chapters (audio) and then we discuss what was read. This also counts as the 2nd part of dd's Bible class. We also pray before meals and whenever a big decision has to be made. In the mornings, at the opening of our school day, we get together to say the pledges to the flag, Christian flag, and Bible. Then we go into my dh's office (he works from home) and we sing a worship song and pray. Afterwards, dd and I go into the living room and read a Bible passage followed by discussion. At night, before dd goes to bed, we get together to pray with her. We have also discussed possibly trying to fast (not dd) one meal a day once a week.

 

Lastly, we try to reflect Christ privately and when out in public.

 

 

For years I believed this was the way to go, along with participating in charismatic/evangelical/protestant churches (after spending my childhood in the Catholic church). I find now, though, that I long to feel my family is part of a spiritual, interconnected community outside of ourselves; something that we can celebrate in, participate in, belong to, live life with, and yes, go through some rituals/celebrations/formal readings/songs/formal prayers/beautiful writings with, without having to travel the distance we currently travel to another community.

 

I saw a recommendation on Olive Branch Books' Facebook page, for a book to read during Advent. How I WISH I'd heard of that book before yesterday - we really could have used something like that during this past season! http://www.amazon.co...d_bxgy_b_text_y

 

I've wrestled with this for a few years now (as some of you know ;)); and there are some interesting-looking churches in my own community - Anglican (the closest; do people join a denomination simply because it's close to their house? Is there anything WRONG with doing that?? Couldn't that fall under "after all, it's part of my community - aren't we simply called to 'be the church' in our community?"), Catholic, United. All convenient and close; all liturgical. I even had an EO Mom in my homeschool support group, and her priest sounded extremely cool. But I am just plain old too tired and busy to travel distances to church (that one would have been at least 30 minutes away) anymore.

 

OP, I hear you.

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I know I didn't answer your question directly, so I'll attempt to do that now. Yes, there was a time where I wanted my Christian walk to be more Jewish. I was a participant in the modern Protestant vein of Christianity known as Messianic Christianity. I attended Friday evening Shabbat services, Saturday morning Sabbath services (I'm not sure if I got these names right, it's been many years), and participated in many other activities from that recently introduced (historically speaking) tradition. It didn't satisfy. In fact, it served as a burden to my husband and I and felt very contrived. It was short lived in our lives, about a year or so, and we left that vein for non-denominational Christianity for the next 12 years. Somewhere in this time I also used Heart of Wisdom homeschool resources, which seems to be a Messianic Christian homeschool resource. So, yes, the desire was there, but it was not satisfied at the core of what the desire really was (for me) from these Messianic Christian efforts.

 

Since converting to Orthodox Christianity I have fully embraced the cycle of fasts and feasts and though it hasn't even been a year yet, I can see the help it has on my soul. I can rest in the traditions that have been practiced since the earliest Christians walked this earth, and I can trust that the Holy Spirit has led His Church until now and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

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Hmm... I wasn't going to comment on this except another person did and I couldn't let it just sit there.

In my opinion, this comment does violence to the actual meaning of the festival. Perhaps you could call your commemoration something else? ;-)

 

The Hebrew Bible offers no concept of the "ultimate Paschal Lamb." Indeed, it never says that the lamb should be anything other than a literal lamb or goat. True, the literal lamb/goat is a reminder that we were passed over and spared in Egypt (and perhaps metaphorically since), but because the concept of Original Sin is a Christian innovation, there was never any requirement for an "ultimate" sacrifice of any kind.

 

Now, you could say that you are ADDING a layer of meaning, but to do so while completely overlooking the other layers (presuming you are not interested in becoming Jewish - because that's who was spared in Egypt - or in following the laws set out in the same Hebrew verses) seems a little odd.

 

To have an interest in Passover as something Jesus observed, as the season in which he possibly died - those things are interesting and perhaps valuable to your Christian walk. But don't be surprised, if you metamorphose it by stripping its observances and adding a totally new meaning, that you may offend those who have never stopped observing the original festival in (as much as possible) the original way.

 

 

This is very interesting. I had no idea the Jewish faith had no belief in original sin. How do Jews explain how harsh God was toward His people, or in general, in the OT?

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Dang, I love this thread but can't read it all because I have to get to therapy. I will be back, though!

 

 

In Orthodoxy she has a special sub-title, Mary Magdalene, Equal to the Apostles. ;) I think I like your mother. :D

 

Now see, I'll have to tell her that. When she took the Belief-O-Matic quiz she came up 100% Orthodox and was rather horrified that Mainline Protestant came in second at 97%. Not that she has anything *against* Orthodox Christianity, she's just spent most of her life building up the Episcopal church.

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This is very interesting. I had no idea the Jewish faith had no belief in original sin. How do Jews explain how harsh God was toward His people, or in general, in the OT?

 

 

Harsh??!? Oh, gosh... where to begin? Start by really READING the Hebrew Bible.

 

Hopefully, you'll have a chance to encounter in it the God of love who makes promises and keeps them. Who knows his nation is going down into slavery and promises ahead of time that a redeemer will come. This is the God who says, "build me a sanctuary; I'm gonna move in next door." This is the God who says, "climb the steps every day and light the lamp and even when it is extinguished, keep it burning in your hearts forever." This is the God who says the few will triumph over the many, the weak over the mighty, with God on their side. This is the God that knocked down the walls of Jericho, rescued Daniel from the lions' den, saved Nineveh from its sin through His prophet Jonah (who by the way, decided the people there were unworthy sinners, beyond redemption, and God taught him a lesson about that, too).

 

This is the God who said, "love your neighbour as yourself," and "don't stand idly by the blood of your neighbour."

Almost everything the Greek Bible says about love is in the Hebrew Bible somewhere, including the bit about turning the other cheek.

 

Of course, the Hebrew Bible doesn't skimp on stories of people doing the wrong thing; being giving good life and wasting it, making the wrong choices, being punished for it.

 

We believe that, like a parent, God holds his children to high standards. Like the spies, suffering from a weakened faith after generations of slavery, who present a negative report about the Land of Israel - God realizes the generation isn't ready; like an infant whose mother knows when it's time to wean, He knows they need a little longer (40 years is nothing to God!) living entirely dependent on Him, while He feeds and clothes and protects them for 40 years. Harsh? Not exactly.

 

Other "harsh" stories: Miriam is punished with leprosy for a relatively minor infraction because He knows she could have done better. And from this story, we learn from Moses' model of how to pray - "please God, heal her now." Short. Sweet. Personal. Moses doesn't get the see the Land to which he's led his people - again, that's very harsh. There are lessons upon lessons in it, and I don't want to dissect every single incident. Yeah, there are brutal incidents - flooding the world, the destruction of Sdom and Amora, but each time we see the harsh, judgmental side of God it is tempered by His mercy.

 

(though I admit, some of those prophets could get a bit grumpy... :-))

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I've wrestled with this for a few years now (as some of you know ;)); and there are some interesting-looking churches in my own community - Anglican (the closest; do people join a denomination simply because it's close to their house? Is there anything WRONG with doing that?? Couldn't that fall under "after all, it's part of my community - aren't we simply called to 'be the church' in our community?"), Catholic, United. All convenient and close; all liturgical. I even had an EO Mom in my homeschool support group, and her priest sounded extremely cool. But I am just plain old too tired and busy to travel distances to church (that one would have been at least 30 minutes away) anymore.

 

OP, I hear you.

 

 

You know what I'll say.....check out that Anglican church! ;)

 

I love the fact that our church is so close - we've joined a dinner group where each couple (or single person) hosts a dinner once a month, but we all bring a dish to share. So nice not to have to drive far away for once! My dd has also joined the adult choir, played in the Lessons & Carols service at Christmas time, plays her violin at services sometimes, and is involved in youth group. Nice that I can take her to rehearsals/meetings and it's only 10 minutes away.

 

You and I have talked a lot about it, and you know where I was coming from before. Talk to the priest at the church, try a service, and see what you think. Sunday! :p

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I even had an EO Mom in my homeschool support group, and her priest sounded extremely cool. But I am just plain old too tired and busy to travel distances to church (that one would have been at least 30 minutes away) anymore.

 

 

Most EO I know would easily travel half an hour for services. Sure, closer would be preferable, but lacking that, we'd drive. If our parish wasn't in our hometown, it'd be a 45 minute drive, and we'd do it as often as we can (at the very least, every Sunday). There are some EO I know who travel 90 minutes every weekend. The services and fellowship are life-giving and energizing in a way I can't describe. The Divine Liturgy because of the Eucharist of course, but we also hang out on Sunday until 2 or 3 in the afternoon at our parish because we just love being together and gain so much be being with each other.

 

I'm a little biased though. ;) And I know others find this in non EO churches, too. For us, it's all about the Eucharist. We need to receive the body and blood of Christ as often as we can. It's "Christ in us, the hope of glory."

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Colleen in NS, I hope that didn't sound uppity. <blush>. My point should have come first, not last, the point being that you never know -- you might be energized by the services (if interested in being so-boosted) and by being Orthodox. Please forgive me if I caused an offense.

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Most EO I know would easily travel half an hour for services. Sure, closer would be preferable, but lacking that, we'd drive. If our parish wasn't in our hometown, it'd be a 45 minute drive, and we'd do it as often as we can (at the very least, every Sunday). There are some EO I know who travel 90 minutes every weekend. The services and fellowship are life-giving and energizing in a way I can't describe. The Divine Liturgy because of the Eucharist of course, but we also hang out on Sunday until 2 or 3 in the afternoon at our parish because we just love being together and gain so much be being with each other.

 

I'm a little biased though. ;) And I know others find this in non EO churches, too. For us, it's all about the Eucharist. We need to receive the body and blood of Christ as often as we can. It's "Christ in us, the hope of glory."

 

We considered exploring Orthodoxy. The closest congregation is 2.5 hrs. one way. Five hours of driving on the Sabbath and in bad weather, wouldn't even be an option given safety concerns. If we got stranded on a Sunday, dh could be in real trouble with his employer on Monday if it happened more than once.

 

This has been a lovely discussion. Our youngest has a very earnest interest in Judaism. He has always been a child who likes structure, predictability, and pattern. He's my math and physics geek and I would imagine since he's predisposed to enjoy this, it makes sense that he is attracted to a faith that provides it. For his sake, we are going to try to do more as a family with the liturgical calendar. I am sure the whole family will benefit from the focus as well.

 

So, ladies I am very grateful for the patience and good will exhibited in the thread. For many people, except for some internet blurb about this or that, we don't really have IRL people to talk about faith journeys and especially when those are walks that aren't "typical" for the micro-culture in which we live where options are very, very few.

 

Faith

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Harsh??!? Oh, gosh... where to begin? Start by really READING the Hebrew Bible.

 

Hopefully, you'll have a chance to encounter in it the God of love who makes promises and keeps them. Who knows his nation is going down into slavery and promises ahead of time that a redeemer will come. This is the God who says, "build me a sanctuary; I'm gonna move in next door." This is the God who says, "climb the steps every day and light the lamp and even when it is extinguished, keep it burning in your hearts forever." This is the God who says the few will triumph over the many, the weak over the mighty, with God on their side. This is the God that knocked down the walls of Jericho, rescued Daniel from the lions' den, saved Nineveh from its sin through His prophet Jonah (who by the way, decided the people there were unworthy sinners, beyond redemption, and God taught him a lesson about that, too).

 

This is the God who said, "love your neighbour as yourself," and "don't stand idly by the blood of your neighbour."

Almost everything the Greek Bible says about love is in the Hebrew Bible somewhere, including the bit about turning the other cheek.

 

Of course, the Hebrew Bible doesn't skimp on stories of people doing the wrong thing; being giving good life and wasting it, making the wrong choices, being punished for it.

 

We believe that, like a parent, God holds his children to high standards. Like the spies, suffering from a weakened faith after generations of slavery, who present a negative report about the Land of Israel - God realizes the generation isn't ready; like an infant whose mother knows when it's time to wean, He knows they need a little longer (40 years is nothing to God!) living entirely dependent on Him, while He feeds and clothes and protects them for 40 years. Harsh? Not exactly.

 

Other "harsh" stories: Miriam is punished with leprosy for a relatively minor infraction because He knows she could have done better. And from this story, we learn from Moses' model of how to pray - "please God, heal her now." Short. Sweet. Personal. Moses doesn't get the see the Land to which he's led his people - again, that's very harsh. There are lessons upon lessons in it, and I don't want to dissect every single incident. Yeah, there are brutal incidents - flooding the world, the destruction of Sdom and Amora, but each time we see the harsh, judgmental side of God it is tempered by His mercy.

 

(though I admit, some of those prophets could get a bit grumpy... :-))

 

Thank you so much for sharing! I really hope I was not disrespectful to God :( but I know this is an issue many Christians have struggled with- reconciling the God of the OT with Jesus in the NT. There seems to be such a difference. Thank you for your perspective. :)

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Faith, did we ever message about an EO location? I know it can be daunting. Someone from this board PM'd me once that the closest parish was 8 hours away! Sometimes there are mission churches not listed on internet lists (ours wasn't until after we were baptized, and I contacted the manager at OrthodoxyInAmerica.com to get it listed). And there's also prayer to get one started closer! :) Our mission is about 7-8 years old and got started because local households didn't want to drive an hour-ish to service anymore. Do you have a population base where you are? You can PM me if you want, but if this has already been thought through in your situation, just feel free to ignore this post. ;)

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I have only skimmed over the previous replies, but I just wanted to share what has made an incredible difference to my christian walk. I am reading the bible, cross referencing, going into word origins and finding other verses with the same hebrew or greek word. The connection within the bible is just incredible and the word origins often give a totally different meaning to what you are reading. It is a joy to read, not the drudgery I have felt for the last twenty years of claiming a christian walk. God has opened my eyes, made a home in my heart and is changing my life each and every day in some small way. My daily life is so incredibly different than what it was even six months ago. Getting to know God in this personal way is such a tremendous blessing to my life.

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Most EO I know would easily travel half an hour for services. Sure, closer would be preferable, but lacking that, we'd drive. If our parish wasn't in our hometown, it'd be a 45 minute drive, and we'd do it as often as we can (at the very least, every Sunday). There are some EO I know who travel 90 minutes every weekend.

Colleen in NS, I hope that didn't sound uppity. <blush>.

 

No offense taken, don't worry. :)

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First off, this idea of Jesus as the "Paschal Lamb". Can someone explain that to me, because it doesn't jive with what I've been taught about the reasons for his death.

 

 

It just seems to me that Christ wasn't very big on religious rituals
'

 

That's a rather odd statement in a discussion about Jesus and his celebration of Passover. He was upset with legalism and corruption of the rituals. For example, them money changers *in* the Temple upset him to the point of rage. It was a defilement of the holiest of holy places. Had I been in his place I'd have tipped a few tables over myself.

 

Orthodox Christians do not believe in Original Sin. My priest taught me that it was a western innovation within Christianity, not a "Christian Innovation." We believe Christ conquered death by death.

 

This is true also of the LDS church. We don't believe in original sin and in fact believe that all souls are born good. It was one of the selling points for me.

 

I'm not going to lie, it was and continues to be the hardest path I've had to walk thus far in my life.

 

I've found that, in my life, the hardest path leads to the most growth. *HUGS* Your testimony is wonderful : D

 

 

This is very interesting. I had no idea the Jewish faith had no belief in original sin. How do Jews explain how harsh God was toward His people, or in general, in the OT?

 

The Book of Job is an excellent answer to this very complex question.

 

 

Now for my own thoughts on the discussion so far - y'all may be talking me into studying more about Orthodoxy. Nothing would thrill my Mom more than seeing that happen. She is a very.... traditional traditionalist? She has the zeal of a convert, fifty years after the fact. If you want to see her loose her cool bring up the secularization of Christmas and the disappearance of Advent from the Christian community. I'm forty and still want to hide under the table when she gets on that topic.

 

Back to what the OP has asked, about seeking other traditions. My Mom had a great sermon this summer while doing some services for a friend while he was on his sabbatical. The whole congregation was suppose to be exploring how we encounter G-d. Mom pointed out that a number of religious leaders have, over time, pointed out that the seeming hollow place inside ourselves is actually the space we need to go to to encounter G-d. Martin Sheen said something very simular in an interview about the movie "The Way". He said that he had found that empty spot and said "Isn't G-d amazing? He hid what we all look for deep inside ourselves - the last place we look!" Those two observations have stuck with me, deeply with me. I don't fear that empty spot anymore.

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First off, this idea of Jesus as the "Paschal Lamb". Can someone explain that to me, because it doesn't jive with what I've been taught about the reasons for his death

 

 

From Bishop Knecht:

 

The Paschal Lamb, a type of Jesus Christ. The paschal lamb was a sacrifice, for it is expressly said (Ex 12: 27) that it was "the victim of the passage of the Lord". As such, it was pre-eminently a type of our Lord, and principally in the following ways. The paschal lamb was to be without blemish: Jesus Christ is the Most Pure, the Most Holy, "a lamb unspotted and undefiled" (1 Peter: 1: 19). The paschal lamb was killed, and its blood spilt Jesus Christ was slain for us the altar of the Cross, and shed all His Blood for us: Of the paschal lamb "no bone was to be broken" contrary to the usual custom with those crucified, not one of our Lord's bones was broken. Through the blood of the paschal lamb the Israelites were saved from temporal death through the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ we are saved from the spiritual death of sin, and the eternal death of hell. The paschal lamb, therefore, foretold that the future Saviour would be unspotted; that He would sacrifice Himself for us, that He would give His Life Land Blood for us, that not one of His bones would be broken, and that we, through His sacrifice, would be saved from death.

 

 

 

Sorry I can't link the rest of it ought now. I'm on a mobile browser

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Uh... hu. I mean I get the sacrificial part, and the innocence part but not how it's tied to Passover other than the timing.

 

At the original Passover lambs were slaughter and their blood used to mark the doorways of the Israelite. This was done to save the first born of all the Jewish homes from the final plague.

 

So, in calling Jesus the Pascal Lamb are we saying that with his blood those of us who follow his teachings are marked to be passed over for total death?

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John the Baptist, the great prophet, says of Jesus as He approaches, "Look! The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" The book of Hebrews speaks of the temple sacrifices as needing repetition, and Christ's as being the final one. Revelation speaks of the 'Lamb that was slain' (Christ) being worthy to receive power and honor and riches and might. And in one of the epistles, after speaking of us having fellowship with one another in Christ, the Evangelist writes, "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

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Uh... hu. I mean I get the sacrificial part, and the innocence part but not how it's tied to Passover other than the timing.

 

At the original Passover lambs were slaughter and their blood used to mark the doorways of the Israelite. This was done to save the first born of all the Jewish homes from the final plague.

 

So, in calling Jesus the Pascal Lamb are we saying that with his blood those of us who follow his teachings are marked to be passed over for total death?

 

 

Go read Patty Joanna's signature ;)

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John the Baptist, the great prophet, says of Jesus as He approaches, "Look! The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" The book of Hebrews speaks of the temple sacrifices as needing repetition, and Christ's as being the final one. Revelation speaks of the 'Lamb that was slain' (Christ) being worthy to receive power and honor and riches and might. And in one of the epistles, after speaking of us having fellowship with one another in Christ, the Evangelist writes, "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

 

Well, sure I do know all that. But not once in those quotes is Jesus talked about as the *Pascal* Lamb.

 

Go read Patty Joanna's signature ;)

 

Off to read!

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