One of the activities here in Florida that I most treasure is weekly Bible study. The group is like no other that I have been blessed to be in over the many years I’ve done so. As you know typically a Bible study group or Havurah is formed by those within faith communities who share the same religious beliefs. This group’s genesis, however, was quite unique.
For some of you new members of this distribution list, a little background:
A couple years ago my cousin who lives about five minutes away and is a big part of my presence here almost died from complications of the stem cell transplant procedure she had just undergone for treatment of multiple myeloma. On the very day after the transplant she developed pneumonia, sepsis, and MRSA, the last alone being a killer of those even with good immune systems let alone someone with no healthy cells yet since her new cells had just been implanted the day before so there had not yet been enough time for them to take hold.
Long story short, despite the hospital chaplain being called in, her family decided not to pull the plug. Her next months were spent on life support as she suffered from massive organ failures other than her heart and months in rehab, even having to learn how to swallow again. Constant prayer by literally thousands restored my cousin to amazing health given her illness. She now is teaching line dancing as before and is a walking medical miracle.
The roots of our particular Bible study were the result of a comment made while my cousin was over the worst. A Christian friend of hers said that when she heard of the likelihood of my cousin’s death she cried. My cousin was touched by that thought until the friend clarified that she was crying because my cousin, being a mainstream Jew, had not found Jesus so she wouldn’t go to Heaven.
So our group began, with my cousin’s goal being to show other Christians the continuing role of Judaism, and yet, the walk has been so much more. We weekly read the Brit Hadasha/Good News and eyes and hearts are opening. Our group consists of a variety of types of Protestants, a Ukrainian Catholic, a Greek Orthodox, even a Jehovah’s witness, my cousin, and me. My cousin is enthralled by the New Testament, this group study being the first time she’s read it. The weekly sessions have been amazing, and the meetings even continue throughout the year when I am back in New England. So many amazing stories. . . So much conversation leading to understanding. . .
As was the case this week. . .
Our group’s schedule of reading started last year with Luke and this year we are in Acts. The pace is just what it is, no particular timeframe for completion. The chapter in Acts we studied last Friday was the one describing Pentecost. As the Ukrainian Catholic participant finished reading, my cousin asked “Where is Pentecost in the Old Testament”? The group was silent. So I shared the amazing beauty of Pentecost, the day fifty (“pentekoste” from the Greek “fiftieth”) days after Easter, being celebrated on Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, the day seven weeks (counting from the night before so 49 days) after Passover. What a divine plan. We discussed how the differences between the Roman and Jewish calendars have made Passover and Easter align less often in modern times, but could you imagine what it was like back then????
Was it mere coincidence that on that exact day of Shavuot thousands of years ago, thousands of Jews were making pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people and in that particular year the Holy Spirit/Ruach HaKodesh descended on all of those Jews making the pilgrimage as well as on all who had become followers of Yeshua from the Nations?? Our group had such an amazing time reliving that day, sharing details of our separate observances, Jew and Christian alike, the group not knowing until then these deeper connections. How amazing it was for each of us to learn from the other, better understanding our differences, kvelling about the similarities.
We were all aglow sharing and further pondering this spiritual magnificence. It was especially wonderful to see my cousin’s reaction, and also, to learn that even these Christians who fully embrace the importance of Judaism really had no knowledge of the deeper significance of that day. Dayenu. . . that would have been enough. . .
So it was with even deeper awe as just a couple days later on Sunday that I listened to the Daily Dvar. It was the same chapter and verse our group had just read in Acts on Friday!! I chatted with my cousin about the “coincidence”. Of all possible passages! Such Divine timing. She, too, was amazed, for it felt so clear that God is doing His part to meet us where we are, to remind us that He is in this walk with us, perhaps kvelling too.
Blessings on blessings. He brings us such joy, and unanticipated surprises demonstrating His intense love of us. Perhaps as we share with others the truth and reality of our Messiah Yeshua, as we share our love of our brothers and sisters, we show our great love of Him as well.