As March became April of 2014, through meditations, prayers, and study, I was led to begin a more mindful observance of the lunar calendar. The timing of that coincided with Passover and how the Hebrew calendar was about to begin.
From my notes, I began to keep track of the lunar calendar, upon which the Hebrew calendar is based, in addition to using the Gregorian calendar. In other places, I have published some information about the Calendar(s).
I call it the Hebrew calendar because the Israelites were not nationalistic Israelites upon their exodus from Egypt. During the exodus and conquest, they were proto-Israelites, a group of people who had difficulty understanding themselves and the developments going on around them. In that regard, they were far more akin to the Hebrews than what they would become as Israelites and later still as Jews.
It seems possible to refer to the Hebrew calendar as the Scriptural calendar, but currently I have chosen to abstain from that term, even though the Hebrew calendar operates, and our understanding of it, completely depends on the Scripture.
By contrast, the Gregorian calendar is a Catholic rework of the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar is a rework of the Roman calendar. The Roman calendar itself experienced important reworkings.
While the church primarily uses the Gregorian Calendar, there are significant differences between it and the Hebrew Calendar, which is described within Scripture. The first significant difference is that the Hebrew calendar works upon moon phase. The second significant difference is that the Hebrew calendar New Year begins, according to the Gregorian Calendar, around March-April.
The Hebrew calendar has some month names. For instance, Month 1 is known as Abiv, Aviv, Abib, or even Avib, where the placement of the ‘v’ or ‘b’ depends completely on pronunciation. But no matter the pronunciation, Month 1 is the month for Passover.
For my Installments, I will simply use demarcations of “Month” and “Day” where both refer to the lunar months of the Hebrew Calendar.
Importantly, there is a numeric assignment to the Hebrew calendar. Consider that when I began observing the lunar calendar, the “accepted” year was 5775. However, that numeric count is derived based upon Israelite/Jewish traditional accounting measurements for the year count, calculating back to the events of Genesis.
I am not in opposition to the count, but neither can I confirm the count. Similarly, the Gregorian year count is based upon a calculated date based on Jesus. Some have determined that the count is inaccurate by a few years. I simply accept that the calendars’ numeric counts exist. Currently, I simply do not see the count as necessary for observing the lunar phase.
But it is important to know how to begin counting. Hence knowing what the new moon is, which is observed as the first observable sliver of the moon. Hence knowing how the Scriptures identify the beginning of the New Year, which is Abiv (Month 1) based upon finding barley in the stalks so they could be brought to the Tabernacle and the observance of the new moon.
From reading my notes, we spotted the new moon, back on April 1, 2014. On April 3, I recorded my first lunar count: Month 1 Day 3. At that time, I was just beginning my observances of the lunar moon, and learning to give more attention to the moon phase.
On April 5, 2014 (Month 1 Day 6), we attended services. During praise and worship, I prayed. I began with a blessing: Blessed are you Jehovah our God, Sovereign of the Cosmos, who gives each new day. The Divine responded:
Then added a question:
As I look at this prayer, the Divine may have been asking me: Why do I give each new day? But that is not what I thought at the time.
I interpreted the question as: Why did you, you being Ray, why did you state the blessing in the manner you did? And that is the perspective from which I provided my answer.
I replied: For today is today, but must be renewed. To which the Divine conveyed:
Yes, as do you, so be renewed, renewed tonight, yes tonight, be renewed, Hallelujah, amen!
Interesting thought, is it not? We can become part of the process of renewing the day. Then the Divine continued:
Now, hear me, shema, truly listen then do.
Again the Divine is bringing my attention to the information, making procreative action the result of first hearing to receive information, to understand that information, and then putting that information into practice making the information become actuality.
Then the Divine conveyed the concept about having the things that are needed to accomplish the task(s) at hand. Later in the prayer, the Divine conveyed:
Now, my son, hear me, listen well.
So in addition to those things previously, the Divine is drawing my attention to what the Divine was about to convey, the Divine continued:
You must do this. You are your own congregation, establish it.
In the prayer, I replied: What do you mean, the timing seems too coincidental? The Divine responded:
And who do you think orchestrates?
With that, while in the prayer, I made note that I re-read the part “You must do this.” With that in mind, I then asked: At home? The Divine responded:
Yes, at home – rules, pattern, events, for your home, your congregation. Now is the time.
Since that prayer, I have been working on this home congregation. Some moments have been very structured, other times not so structured. Because we are a small group, things can be fairly dynamic. But I try to be open to needs and considerations of the family.
With my question answered, I asked another: Anything else? The Divine responded:
Yes. This. Your congregation is important.
At this point, I am not sure I can see the importance of following this prayer. Through the course of the last six years or so, I have been trying to truly pay attention to the Divine.
However, for me when I took my family to the house for congregation services, it was simply the next thing that had to be done. In the prayer, the Divine continued:
This is not a flight of fancy, or side project, this is your church home, this is where you minister, bringing light to those in your home.
I have approached this with importance. I have not considered it lightly, or something like a hobby. I am serious about it. Light doesn’t occur on one single day, or a select few, because the conversation about God is routine. Yet, we spend specific time in prayer, Bible reading, and meditation, along with trying to assemble with a local messianic synagogue on the Sabbath that follows the arrival of the new moon. Then the Divine continued:
Things will grow from here.
It is currently July 2016, and things are relatively the same. So I am hoping that future days reveal the growth. The Divine continued:
Blend the houses. Listen to your wives.
These are two thoughts which set in the discussion about the congregation at the house. Therefore, blending must be referring to the concept of two wives. And it is a type of blending, where I am the common denominator between the two.
But that can only be accomplished when I listen to what each lady has to say about: one, how they prefer things as a family; and two, how they prefer things as a congregation.
I have been listening to Mary. Rachel I have yet to meet. So it will be interesting when we all meet and begin this part of our faith.
Returning to the prayer, the Divine continued:
Consult with me, my word, personally, consult, do nothing on your own.
So there are some specific things there. Notice that before I was told to consult with the Divine I was told to listen to my wives. So that in and of itself is intriguing.
In addition to that, I am to continue my prayer life in order to find help in time of need. But I am also to remain in study of the Bible, which I am.
However, for me, the concept that resounds with me the greatest is that this is personal, I have to seek the Divine, I have to converse with my wives, for nothing is to be accomplished according to my own plans.
That is strongly amazing. I am to be ministering to my wives, my family, my home, my congregation, but none of it, zip, zero, nada, is to be done in a way that is sourced within my own imaginations, desires, or goals.
Later in the prayer the Divine added:
You will build, and build you will, a strong house, a strong assembly, for me,
This is where it comes into focus. This work, while family focused and led to be a congregation, is not about me, it is for the Divine.
What that means is a type of mystery. I know that life itself is for the Divine. Otherwise, the Divine would not have created life. But I do know that life properly focused and lived brings glory to the Divine, and that is to be the focal point of this.
The Divine continued:
a place for rest and nourishment for my people, my people for all ages, for all places, all walks, judge not, help all, they will be blessed,
So what is the focus of this family and assembly? It is to be a place of rest, in the sense of receiving a respite from the bleakness of the world and the spiritual battle, whether that weariness is derived from within the church or elsewhere.
So what is task of this family and assembly? It is to be nourishment, in the sense of spiritual food, a means of rejuvenating the person’s spirit, or strengthening the individual’s spirit, or helping the spiritual aspect of the person to grow. Will there be physical food? Yes. But spiritual food is as important to the soul as physical food is to the physical body.
Who is the family and assembly for? For those who are young, for those who are not so young, for anyone who is looking for rest and nourishment in their walk of faith with the Divine.
Then there is the important issue of judge not. This seems to insinuate that this family and assembly will be working with many various types of individuals. Let’s just accept it, Christians and churches and congregations judge other humans. However, this family and assembly is not supposed to judge.
That challenge is unique. Already, since I have been working on learning my leading, I have been judged by all kinds of Christians about all kinds of things, along with all kinds of other people having their judgments about me.
So, to be a family and assembly that helps others rest and find their nourishment and not give judgment according to their actions, inactions, beliefs, or whatever else is quite the challenge. But to build it the way the Divine has led, requires a judge not approach. That is challenging.
The Divine declared that all were to be helped. That means that our family and assembly should be helping the very people that others turn away, and in that those we help will find blessings.
The Divine then continued:
you instruct, I change, you heal along with your wives, instructing and healing, but I, and I alone, do the changing.
Interestingly, the instruction of others begins with me. Perhaps that is because I will be the one around and in the home.
The Divine also included for me the concept of healing. I surmise that this is about emotional and spiritual healing, along with perhaps intellectual. As for physical, I expect some, like healing bumps and bruises, but perhaps there sets something that I don’t yet understand.
But I am not the only one upon whom instruction and healing falls. It also belongs to my wives, where each lady will have her own gifts and talents, which are important, not just to the family, but also to the assembly.
Lastly, notice that the Divine claims the sole right to do the changing. This is critical, and cannot be over emphasized. The Divine is the one who shapes the person into the vessel the Divine wants.
The Scriptural principal is Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase.
Sadly and unfortunately, for whatever reason, well-meaning Christians and Churches seek to do the changing for the Divine. This is why guilt lessons are given and why shame lessons are presented. They are aimed at piercing the heart of the person the church thinks needs to change. Therefore, is it any wonder that the church finds itself flirting with disaster and wrestling with failure, resulting in the drop off of the faithful?
If it isn’t the church trying to get people to change, the world tries to get people to change, because humanity tries to fulfill the Divine’s role. But it is NOT humanity’s role to change the person(s). It is the Divine who affects and effects change.
When I examine those principals against my experience over my years in pulpit ministry, and the last six years, I can verify that those principals are true.
In becoming a minister, I was taught, among lots of things, to aim lessons at the heart in order to effect change. My religious heritage is not alone in this, because it is a trait found throughout Christendom, and then also amongst other religions, and amongst the non-religious.
In experiencing the last six years, it has taken the Divine to shape me into the person I am today. I didn’t do the shaping. But I did have a constant pursuit of understanding the Divine, a persistent reflecting upon the information, and working to confirm my experience via studies of the Scriptures. From that experience, I can appreciate the difficulty that people have with religion.
Look, I was a believer when all of this started. I didn’t stop that belief. I had my studies, and admittedly some of my studies changed my thinking.
But what I have experienced caused me to reevaluate my experience in the church, the doctrines of the church, and the manner in which the church conducts itself. Those things changed me, how I approach things, how I consider the frailty of people, wobbly faith, doubt, dogma, doctrine, along with the Divine.
I had a fairly strong belief and conviction when I began this journey, but that was not enough. I know for certain that if Mary had not been with me during those years helping me, discussing issues with me, sharing experiences with me, I think I would have given up.
Why? Because of self doubt, self criticism, and judgmentalism from people of faith, family, and friends. All of this experience has given me new appreciation for the walk of faith.
Since I had a support network, and I had strong conviction to begin with, and I found this journey tumultuous, I can only image how others might respond given their own experiences.
But, it was my prayer to God, years ago, about wanting something worth dying for that began my journey, because within a few short months of that prayer, I was out of the pulpit and my life began changing, being changed by the Divine.
I’m still a minister, just not a minister in the capacity I envisioned, or in the capacity in which I was trained. I still serve the church, just not as I had imagined, or in the capacity in which I was educated.
The walk of faith is not easy. And coming to terms with the Divine and that leading is not easy.
The Divine changed me. The Divine changed Mary. I know the Divine will change Rachel.
Yet, I pray, I reflect, I meditate, and I work on what has been given me: family, assembly, projects and “My Story” all while I wait.
Blessings and Shalom