Congregation Beth Messiah
Friday, December 13, 2013
Proclaiming Yeshua is the Messiah!
Torah Procession Aug. 4 2007
"This past Shabbat, August 4, the members of UMJC congregation Beth Messiah, Houston, escorted their Torah scroll from their old meeting place in a local church to their own newly-completed synagogue, to hold their first worship service. As part of the Beth Messiah extended family, and representing the UMJC, I joined the Torah procession and worship service in Houston.
A procession of 300 or more walked two miles to honor God and the Torah, led by a worship band playing songs like Od Avinu Chai and Mazel Tov V'siman Tov, then dancers in blue and white, then the Torah under a chuppah (wedding canopy) held up by four young men. The leaders and elders of Beth Messiah took turns carrying the Torah and were followed by a line stretching down the boulevard leading from the old building to the new one. At 9:00 in the morning it was already hot, humid-and glorious.
Police cars escorted us before and behind, first the Stafford police, and then when we entered Houston city limits, the Houston police. Finally, we crossed under a tollway, where the cool air, along with a nice echo and the proximity of the new building, set everyone cheering.
We entered the building into a magnificent foyer paved in Jerusalem stone, with archways looking like a street in the Old City. After a break we escorted the Torah into the sanctuary with seven circuits through the congregation. It seemed fitting that the first service in the new building focused so clearly on the Torah, the Word of God, especially as this was the Shabbat on which we read Deuteronomy 7:12 through 11:25, including this: "So he humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna . . . that he might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Deut. 8:3).
Rabbi Richard Freeman, leader of Beth Messiah spoke briefly from the same Torah portion, which summarizes God's instructions to Israel, to love and fear the Lord, to keep his commandments, and hold fast to him. Rabbi Freeman said that this instruction grew out of God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, to bless him and his offspring, and all the nations through him. Just as a single apple seed contains the potential not only for an apple tree, but for an entire orchard, so this promise was a seed that contained the whole story of Israel and everything in it, including Messiah himself. In the same way, Rabbi Freeman continued, 27 years ago God impressed him and his wife, Patsy, with a word that was the seed for all that had come to pass at Congregation Beth Messiah: "Go to Houston and raise up a congregation where Jewish people can hear the Good News of Mashiach within a Jewish context-and after they come to faith in Yeshua can continue to live a Jewish life.
Over the years Beth Messiah has remained faithful to this vision, and to the UMJC, which unites many congregations in the same vision. We congratulate Beth Messiah on their new synagogue and pray that it will be a place where this vision is fulfilled and the seed bears abundant fruit in Messiah!" Russ Reznick, UMJC President