April 19, 2019 Shannon L. Newsome

She Thinks You're Jewish

She Thinks You're Jewish

"Here's a card."


I was sitting in the library stairwell with my then-girlfriend, looking at the envelope in her hand, wondering if I had missed an anniversary. She must have seen it in my face, because she said, "It's not from me. It's from Jane."


Jane was her best friend. Why in the world would Jane be giving me a card?


Only one way to find out. I opened the card.


I don't remember what the card looked like, or what it said on the outside, but I will never forget the words on the inside:


Happy Hanukkah!


I looked at her, puzzled. 


She said, "She thinks you're Jewish, but that you're in denial."


Oh.


Seven years later, I went with my then (and still) girlfriend (and wife) to meet her grandmother for the first time. This would actually be one of the few times I got to spend with her grandmother, as she died less than a year later, just weeks before our wedding.


Later in the car, I asked Kerri, "So, how do you think it went?"


"She thinks you're Jewish."


Oh.


Or maybe rather, "Oy vey!" (a Yiddish phrase expressing dismay or exasperation)


You know, I never grew up with a knowledge of having any Jewish heritage. My DNA results show "no connection" to the six European Jewish regions. (Then again, they also show "no connection" to the Native-American regions, even though my mother swears I am 1/16th Cherokee!)


So, who knows? I mean, anything is possible, especially since I know absolutely nothing about my father's heritage, since he was adopted.


I mean, it would certainly explain my love and appreciation for the Jewish culture, especially when those Jewish roots help me understand my own Christian faith in a deeper and more meaningful way.


So, here's my quick public service announcement. For those who may have never received a Happy Hanukkah! card themselves and so, you may just not know, the Jewish Passover begins tonight, at sundown. Tonight, all around the world, families will gather for the main Passover ritual, the seder - a festive meal that involves the re-telling of the Israelite exodus from Egypt through questions, stories, songs, and symbolic foods.


Our church family has been spoiled over the last few years to have a relationship with Aaron Abramson of Jews for JesusHe has led us in the seder meal three different times and shown us the links between the ancient Jewish festival of redemption and Jesus as our Lamb of God.


This past Sunday evening was one of those occasions, and Aaron led us in a song that, even though we've sung it at our last couple seder meals, I had forgotten about it... but haven't been able to get out of my mind since! It's the song, Dayenu, a fifteen-stanza melody that is sung during the meal after the retelling of the Exodus story.


The Hebrew word dayenu loosely means, "It would have been enough." 


While we didn't sing all fifteen verses, I have printed them at the bottom of this post for those who are interested. Essentially, the song is broken into three different sections, with the first five verses about the Israelite's release from Egypt, the second five about their time in the wilderness, and the third five about their spiritual life, giving thanks for the Sabbath, Mt. Sinai, the Torah, the land of Israel, and the Temple.


In each verse, there is thanksgiving to God for His kindness and mercy, ending with dayenu - "It would have been enough."


I like what Erica Brown writes about the song:


"It's rare to hear people say, when commenting on a blessing in their lives, 'It's enough.' When it comes to goodness, we are greedy. We want an abundance of happiness, and sometimes think of it as our due. But immediately after we tell of the Exodus from Egypt in the Hagaddah, we break into... song where we sing jubilantly and in unison, Dayenu - It is enough."


But in reality, it wasn't enough. I mean, that's why God sent His Son Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God, the once-and-for-all sacrifice that took away, forever, the sins of the world. 


"The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship... 11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time... 14 For that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:1, 11-12, 14 NLT)


Jesus is enough! 


But sadly, millions of people tonight and beyond will miss this eternity-changing truth.


So first, pray for the millions around the tables tonight, but don't you miss the truth. Don't miss the gratitude either! 


Erica Brown continues... 


"We don't realize how lucky we are until we speak our blessings in detail. Dayenu is not merely a reflection on Passover, but a template for true thanks."


As I was walking/running downtown this morning, I had this post on my mind when I hobbled past the store "Blessings by the Bushel." 


You know, I am certainly blessed, and I definitely, in my own life, have received blessings by the bushel. But my thought on this Good Friday morning was, "If I had a bushel basket and it only had one thing in it, if that one thing was Jesus, would that be enough?"


On this day when we remember His sacrifice, for us, may we offer up the prayer that let's God know just how thankful we are... and that Jesus is enough!


"If the only prayer you say in your life is 'Thank you,' that will suffice. (Meister Echkart, 13th century German theologian and philospher)


I hope you will join me today in praying that simple prayer.


"Thank you."



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  • If He had taken us out of Egypt and not made judgments on them; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had made judgments on them and had not made [them] on their gods; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had made [them] on their gods and had not killed their firstborn; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had killed their firstborn and had not given us their money; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had given us their money and had not split the Sea for us; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had split the Sea for us and had not taken us through it on dry land; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had taken us through it on dry land and had not pushed down our enemies in [the Sea]; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had pushed down our enemies in [the Sea] and had not supplied our needs in the wilderness for forty years; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had supplied our needs in the wilderness for forty years and had not fed us the manna; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had fed us the manna and had not given us the Shabbat; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had given us the Shabbat and had not brought us close to Mount Sinai; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had brought us close to Mount Sinai and had not given us the Torah; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had given us the Torah and had not brought us into the land of Israel; [it would have been] enough for us.
  • If He had brought us into the land of Israel and had not built us the ‘Chosen House’ [the Temple; it would have been] enough for us.