Liturgy: Dead or Living?


*A Radical Repost from 2009

In response to our last post on Jewish prayer , Kari, a reader, observed that a large part of our movement carries tremendous baggage on the subject, and many people seem to recoil at the mention of the word “liturgy.” Here are her words:

I wanted to add one hurdle that I see someone very close to me struggling with when it comes to Jewish prayer. This is a man who was raised Jewish, but had very negative feelings toward Jewish worship, even before becoming a follower of Yeshua. I thought this might fit into the category of “nostalgia,” but more of a “negative nostalgia.” Liturgy may, for some Messianic Jews, bring back memories of a form of worship that made them feel empty. Though I agree that it can be greatly meaningful, sometimes there exists a deep resistance based on negative feelings liturgy can evoke in those whose Jewish experience growing up may not have been so positive.


I so get this. Just this weekend, my husband and I attended a standard-issue suburban Conservative synagogue for what was billed as a moving and spiritual Slichot service. I walked out brimming over with disappointment and anger. Keep in mind that I married a rabbi, and that I’m particularly nerdy about my love of being Jewish and doing Jewish. It really takes a lot to put me over the edge. And yet, I walked away with all the wind knocked out of my sails.


Here’s why: the cantor, who had a marvelous voice and excellent technique, clearly understood the service as an opportunity to put on a show. There was operatic solo after operatic solo, punctuated by the kind of introductions you’d expect at a symphony, but certainly not in a service that’s intended to prepare the people for pre-Holy Day repentance. The clincher was her introduction of a final song, concluded with these words: “I think it’s a nice way to listen to it.” Listen, I thought, You think I came here to listen to you??? G-d forbid I would come to synagogue seeking an opportunity to PRAY! I won’t go into detail, and I won’t name names, but it was suddenly clear to us why we were the youngest people in the room by at least thirty years.


So yes, I understand the baggage. But I’ve had enough positive experiences with moving Jewish prayer that I haven’t lost hope.

So … what’s the antidote?

I want to make crystal clear what the antidote is NOT. Very decidedly, the antidote is NOT sparkly banners or Magen David tambourines. And please G-d, it is NOT random shofar blowings.

As we’ve seen in our own travels to congregations around the country, these unfortunate hallmarks of our movement fail just as spectacularly at attracting Jewish spiritual seekers as does the Reform movement’s affinity for choir robes and operatic cantor solos.

Awkardly, these supposedly “spontaneous” forms of Messianic worship have developed into their own forms of predictable “liturgy.” Who hasn’t noticed the following pattern? It goes like this: two happy clappy songs, interrupted by the head singer’s “transitioning” prayer, followed by three weepy sleepy songs … at which point we’re all supposed to feel that our spiritual tanks have been filled and we’ve been sufficiently prepared for the “meat” of the service, which is the rabbi’s 45 minute thematic sermon. Twenty blogger points if your own community has tweaked the foregoing ever-so-slightly!

The antidote, we’ll humbly submit, is a total re-thinking of the purpose and practice of Jewish prayer. Followed by a humble reckoning with this question: “Why do Jews go to synagogue? What does the average Jew yearn for when she or he ventures into the pew?”

Here’s our answer: What the Jewish seeker is NOT looking for is a place to play Jewish dress-up, or an attempted reconstruction of “first-century Judaism” (which is both a silly and impossible task twenty centuries later). Neither are we looking for an opportunity to warm a pew while a professional Jew on stage puts on a show (see my Slichot story above). You wonder why non-Orthodox synagogues can’t fill their pews outside of the High Holidays? Because most operate under the assumption that Jews are looking for a pretty show, and reinforce this assumption with their High Holiday services.

We fervently believe that within every Jewish person – from the most disaffected to the most observant – exists a Jewish neshama, a Jewish soul. If you scratch past the surface, what you’ll find in every Jewish neshama is a deep longing to simultaneously connect with G-d and to find one’s place within thirty centuries of Jewish history. Every Jewish person is ultimately looking for those two things when he or she approaches a prayer service.

What does that look like?

  • First, we need to stop treating the bimah as a stage, accessible only to the vaunted few. In fact, let’s get rid of the stage altogether. Bring the rabbi, the singers, and the other leaders onto the floor where “everyone else” is seated. Let’s physically reinforce the message that we are all in shul to pray together.
  • Second, we need to stop treating the “liturgy” like the dusty rare books we leave on our shelves to impress our dinner guests. Who says you have to sing the Aleinu in the same melody week after week? And why are our rabbis more inclined to give us stage directions (stand here, bow there, cover your eyes) than they are to inspire us to meditate on a particular line in the forthcoming prayer? How would we pray if we saw our prayer books as instruments of holiness … as living, breathing guides to accessing G-d through the traditions of G-d’s people?
  • Third, we need to stop treating our congregants like children. Let’s give “speaking roles” to the congregants already. The cantor may have a nice voice, but we didn’t all show up to listen to the cantor. Get your congregants involved beyond the aliyot, and you’ll be amazed to see your community “buy in” to its own future.
  • Finally, as for the children, we need to vanquish our expectation that they sit silently while the grownups have their spiritual time. It is in childhood that Jewish people develop their sentiments about organized Jewish life, for better or worse. The most efficient way to alienate a young Jew from Judaism is to make her feel that she isn’t allowed to act like a child in the synagogue. What if we made the synagogue a fun and relaxed space for our children? What if we let them run in the aisles, dance with their friends, and gave them candy after their every visit to the bimah?

As we’ve said before, we don’t have a patent on the process. But it’s our hope that in implementing these suggestions, and perhaps a few more we have yet to identify, we’ll get one step closer to drawing in the congregants that our movement set out forty years ago to serve.


About Monique

Chocoholic, jazz head ... prone to rants, and a professional pitbull. I married a terrific guy who happens to be a rabbi, so I guess that makes me a rebbetzin. Who saw that one coming? My grandparents survived the Shoah and spent their lives in the service of others. On my best days, I walk in their footsteps.
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32 Responses to Liturgy: Dead or Living?

  1. Judah Himango says:

    " It goes like this: two happy clappy songs, slowed down suddenly for the head singer's often inane and incoherent prayer ("G-d, just please, Father G-d, just enter in this morning, Father, just, G-d, just, just, just …"), followed by three weepy sleepy songs Ouch! That is insulting, Monique, to many of us who enjoy praising God with psalms and entering into worship with hymns or sweet songs of worship to our God.Look, liturgy is fine, provided is it done with heart-felt intention and directed towards God.Please don't dump on those of us who worship differently.And I say this as someone who strongly opposes praise/worship-as-entertainment.

  2. derek4messiah.wordpress.com says:

    While I feel a bit differently on some points, well said.We have an open bimah. I've wondered what some other leaders might think about it. But we want people to have the option to get close to Torah, to read a line if they don't feel ready to read more, or just to be near as it is read. Kids are always welcome to come up and always do.My d'rash is five minutes, tops. I have a separate hour for teaching. The Torah service is the highlight for us. I'm not saying, of course, that others should imitate. I just like the idea of creativity with a purpose. I like some of the ideas you have proposed here.L'shana tova.Derek Leman

  3. Monique says:

    Judah, I'm sorry that you're offended, and I know that my critique can feel withering. The point I was making, however, was that this supposedly "spontaneous" form of worship has become just as regimented as the liturgy in a prayer book. There are certainly times and spaces in which it can be spiritually moving … but it's largely alienating to Jewish seekers.And their opinion is the one we should pay most attention to, nu? Shouldn't we be scratching our heads, wondering where we ran off the rails? Our movement set out forty years ago to create spiritual homes for Jewish and intermarried believers, and to provide space for Jewish seekers to examine our claim that Yeshua is Messiah. With very few exceptions, this is exactly the group of people we have FAILED to reach. I understand that you like to worship in a specific way … but I'd challenge you to humbly assess whether "the way you like it" is effective at meeting the spiritual and communal needs of those we seek to serve.Because if they are not our focus, then what exactly are we wasting our time doing?I also want to make clear how vividly I depart from your statement that "liturgy is fine, but …" "Liturgy," as we've tried valiantly to demonstrate, is the product of thirty centuries of Jewish history. It reflects the ongoing efforts of our people to connect with Hashem. It is neither rigid nor inflexible, and it has changed and grown over the centuries along with our people.It's our position that "contemporary praise and worship" as it's most popularly structured does not satisfy the Jewish need to simultaneously connect with G-d AND find one's place within thirty centuries of Jewish history. As we've explained, embracing liturgy SHOULD be heartfelt, SHOULD be intentional, and SHOULD help us turn our souls to our Creator. It's only when we make liturgy dry and boring that it becomes so. It's the most wicked self-fulfilling prophecy, in my mind.Another important tidbit is this: many of the songs (the ones that don't begin with "I," at least) that contemporary praise bands use are actually taken directly from the Psalms, which have a specific place within Jewish liturgy. It's called Pesukei D'Zimra. What would happen if we simply acknowledged that fact, and sang the Psalms where we traditionally do Pesukei D'Zimra?And then, what if we carried over the spirit and the song-making of this portion of our liturgy into the rest of it? It's for a lack of exposure and lack of imagination that we've made "liturgy" so boring. But let's not blame liturgy. Let's blame ourselves.

  4. Monique says:

    Derek, I'm a big fan of the short rabbi's sermon, followed by an after-service interactive Torah study/discussion. There's nothing more Jewish than wrestling with the rabbi over a complicated text.You could also experiment with inviting individual congregants to prepare and deliver a three to five minute d'rash on the Torah portion each week (in addition to your brief sermon a bit later in the service). It's a great way to put one's developing knowledge to use, it forces lay people to delve deeper than they do when they rely on the rabbi to do all the research, and it sends an important message to the entire community, namely "we're all in this together."Of course, not everyone feels comfortable with this kind of role, but in time you'll develop a rotating cast of characters whose fresh insights really enliven your time of communal study and worship.

  5. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Monique…"There are certainly times and spaces in which it can be spiritually moving … but it's largely alienating to Jewish seekers. And their opinion is the one we should pay most attention to, nu?"Yes, we should. However, in case of my friend Judah and other folks in the "independent messianic movement", I suspect that Jewish seekers are not the primary focus. So, perhaps his audience is best served with more contemporary Christian/Charismatic style worship.

  6. Judah Himango says:

    I propose that Monique and Gene's focus on attracting people via a particular form of worship is no different than the Christian focus on praise-as-entertainment: instead of focusing on praising God, you focus on how to bring people into the seats.Yuck.Instead of arguing over whether the psalms should be sung to music or chanted in liturgy, consider what matters is praising God. Not impressing people. Not attracting people. Not the mode of worship.

  7. Judah Himango says:

    @Gene,"So, perhaps his audience is best served with more contemporary Christian/Charismatic style worship."Nah. God's audience is best served by his people praising him. Nothing short.

  8. Monique says:

    Judah,There is a very subtle but important difference between attracting those you seek to serve by meeting their deepest spiritual needs and attracting people through superficial marketing tactics. I'm advocating for the former.Praising G-d is what we should do with our entire lives, not just the songs we sing once a week. (I'm sure you agree with that sentiment.) And praising G-d is one component of our communal time together. But there are so many more layers to communal worship that have been wholly neglected. Gene has questioned whether your focus is on something other than meeting the deepest spiritual needs of Jewish people. (I believe this is what Paul refers to in Romans 11, but perhaps you could argue with me over that.) I have not met you, and have not attended your congregation, so you'd be a better advocate for your own community's priorities. Seriously, though, I'm curious to know. What is the purpose of a Messianic … Jewish … Congregation … if it is not to meet the deepest spiritual needs of the Jewish people while guiding us along the path of Mashiach? And which of our preferential habits are getting in the way of these goals? It's my view that until we reckon humbly with these questions, we'll continue doing the same poorly planned things with the same pitiful results.

  9. Judah Himango says:

    There is a very subtle but important difference between attracting those you seek to serve by meeting their deepest spiritual needs and attracting people through superficial marketing tactics. I'm advocating for the former.Of course, Christians would never admit to the latter!Look, I'm not against liturgy. In fact, my brother and I did one of the Amidah prayers last shabbat put to music. And this week I am learning Marty Goetz's V'Ahavta on my guitar.I have the utmost respect for liturgy and tradition.I only dropped by here to say, music is a legitimate form of worship. (Gosh, I can't believe I had to actually say that!) Liturgy is not the only legitimate mode of worship.

  10. Monique says:

    Who said that music isn't worship? That's not what I was saying AT ALL. Kudos for exploring new approaches to liturgy. I'd encourage you to continue exploring, and learning new melodies to familiar prayers. What we consider "traditional" today was once cutting-edge …Learning Jewish prayer is a lot like learning to ride a bike. There's a learning curve, but once you've settled in and established some comfort with the text, you can riff and experiment like a virtuoso.Of course, learning Hebrew makes the whole process much easier, and should be on our priority lists anyway …And also consider embracing the power of silence in your worship services … that's what the Amidah accomplishes, especially when it's done immediately preceding the Torah service (which, ding ding ding! happens to be the same place that it falls in the prayer book). Among its many purposes, it prepares us to finish talking and allow G-d to speak through His Torah.

  11. Yahnatan Lasko says:

    "It goes like this: two happy clappy songs, slowed down suddenly for the head singer's often inane and incoherent prayer ("G-d, just please, Father G-d, just enter in this morning, Father, just, G-d, just, just, just …"), followed by three weepy sleepy songsI think we can safely say this is a caricature. Like Judah, I'm a worship leader in my congregation. I'm also highly self-critical..not in a "down on myself" sort of way, but in a way which often anticipates others' critiques because I'm already aware of and working on the problem.For example, the incoherent "like, like, like" prayer. That hits home. I often feel like my own prayers are less than they could/should be. Yes, of course, God understands my heart. But still…if language matters at all, in addition to praying, shouldn't I also be engaged in the task of learning how to pray better?Undoubtedly the greatest influence on how I learned to pray was the way others around me prayed. (For a funny example, see this video from a Christian standup comedian.) Discovering the exultant and time-tested language of the siddur has challenged me to make improving my own vocabulary of prayer a lifelong task, and to allow the siddur (as well as the amazing prayers contained in the Scriptures themselves!) to become a greater source of influence in this regard. Of course, the best way for this to happen has been by praying these prayers regularly, to help them become a part of the fabric of my prayer life with God.

  12. Yahnatan Lasko says:

    Please don't dump on those of us who worship differently.I resonate with this plea. While I always want to make room for constructive criticism (like I said, I'm already actively engaged in the process myself, and could use the help!), people understandably don't take kindly to others saying, "Your way of worship is invalid."To be fair, I didn't read Monique as doing that. In its context, I believe her critique was simply observing that if we're setting up our worship style as the "more spontaneous" alternative to "liturgy," then we may be deceiving ourselves, as our worship services usually arrange themselves in their own liturgical order (i.e. Monique's "two happy clappy…three weepy sleepy"). I have even come across a mini-theology about this order in several Messianic circles theologize using a Temple analogy (upbeat praise songs = outer court; slower, more intimate worship songs represent inner court). The point is this: if we have the impression that "liturgy = planned" while "contemporary worship = more spontaneous," our impression may be somewhat skewed.(And like Monique said, our impressions about liturgy are hugely impacting because they do so often work in a circle–we perform the liturgy according to how we think it's supposed to be performed. Most often the only way out of this circle is seeing another way modeled for us. I recommend checking out the video my friend Netzer Chosid posted in the comments on my blog post about liturgical prayer as dancing.)

  13. Yahnatan Lasko says:

    One more thought about Judah's comment about not criticizing. I agree that criticizing the heartfelt and sincere worship of others is hurtful. Our own sages have many stories where one person's humble yet heartfelt prayer was the most accepted by God because of the beauty of its sincerity.However, our worship services teach us so much. In fact, for kids, it's my guess that worship services must surely be in the top five experiences most forming their thoughts about God and religion–perhaps even top two! (I'm curious if you all agree?) Given that fact, shouldn't we be extremely conscious of what we're teaching our kids? For example, I grew up thinking liturgy was (basically) dry and boring. This was probably due to a number of factors, but the biggest among them had to do with the way I perceived the adults responding (or not) to the liturgy. At my congregation, the liturgy was almost always led by someone other than the "worship leader." What message did that send me as a kid growing up? (1) That liturgy was something other than worship. (2) That contemporary forms of worship were better than the traditional prayers of our people (despite the opposite being proclaimed from the bimah on numerous occasions!) This is what I mean by worship as teaching–I mean that actions speak louder than words, and worship is one of the primary actions in our communities.In general, for worshippers, sincerity is what counts. For worship leaders (and I count myself among them), I believe we should be accountable to (loving) criticism…because of our awesome responsibility.(Ironically, many of us started leading worship not so much because we had spent many years engaging in the task of learning how to lead worship, but rather because we had a pure heart and knew how to play piano/guitar. Much of our learning has been via experience. So in a lot of ways, perhaps our own upbringing as worship leaders didn't really prepare us to properly engage the task and the criticism that comes with it–i.e. that's honestly not what we signed up for. I think that's fair.)</soapbox></blog-hijack>

  14. Judah Himango says:

    Who said that music isn't worship? That's not what I was saying AT ALL.Monique, please choose carefully your words when you speak on liturgy. Describing our heart-felt worship and our joyful shabbat-entering thanksgiving and praise songs as, "2 happy-clappy songs, followed by 3 weepy-sleepy songs is belittling and insulting and totally out of line.God's worked in me and healed me through Messianic music. So many have been inspired and encouraged through classic 1970s Lamb, Israel's Hope in the '80s, Marty Goetz, Steve McConnell, Meha Shamayim, countless others who have dedicated their life to music for Messiah. Dismissing and stereotyping our worship and praise as "happy-clappy and weepy-sleepy" was insulting to us who have been strengthened and built up and renewed through such songs of thanksgiving, worship, and praise.Liturgy is not the only legitimate mode of worship. For many of us, psalms and prayers work so much better when put to a few strings on the guitar, a few notes on the flute. 🙂 I think King David would give us a nod.

  15. Monique says:

    Judah,You've taken personal opprobrium from my generic critique, and have inflated my blog post into a perceived "beef" with numerous Messianic musicians and your preferred style of worship. Where in the world …?It seems that you're more offended by what you think I'm saying than what I'm actually saying.I'm sorry to have rattled your cage, but isn't the purpose of all this dialogue a humble assessment of the theological paradigms that we've taken for granted?No one is forcing you to abandon your operative paradigms. But neither can I have a constructive dialogue with you about them if they're wedded to your emotions.

  16. Monique says:

    Yahnatan … hijack away, by all means!Folks, visit his blog, Gathering Sparks (on our blog roll) for frequently updated thoughts on parashah, the holidays, our sages, and Jewish ethics.Someday soon he's going to be a big big deal. Psst … Don't let that get to your head. 🙂

  17. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Judah-Thank you for your dialogue. I would like to add my own two cents as well. There is NOTHING WRONG with contemporary forms of worship. And I would agree there is a place within Messianic worship for this style of worship. However, in wrestling with creating Jewish space for G-d to move, we also need to ask questions. There are many ways to worship – liturgical and comemporay forms are just two of the many ways we worship G-d. Neither of them are the "right way." Yet, it is important to also always ask questions – why do we do it this way? Why don;t we do it another way? Etc.All services and faiths throughout history are influenced by surroundings. This is neither a good nor bad thing. It just is. And if we are honest with ourselves, we also recognize that Messianic music until recently has been primarily influenced by Christian contemporary forms of worship than Jewish forms of worship. AGAIN, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It just is.So as we continue to wrestle with what Messianic Judaism should like like into the future, we need to assess all forms of worship – especially Jewish forms of worship. At times there will be a number of infuences. And that is great. But we should not kid ourselves into thinking only one way is the right way, or MORE SPIRITUAL than another. In my experiences, people have butchered liturgy just as they have butchered some of the best contemporary "worship" songs. And vice verse. I have also been in a numbe of contexts where the service moved me so deeply spiritually – again both in contemporary and liiturgical (as well as other) forms of worship.The important thing to regocgnize is what Monique noted – they still actually all flow from a particular form. And they are all actually liturgical. For afterall, the definition of liturgy is simply repetition. If we do something (or a form) more than once it becomes liturgical. So actually, even contemporary forms of worship actually fall into a liturgical form. The two fast songs and two slow songs might change every week, but they are still in a structure. And whether we read our worship from a powerpoint, an overhead projector, or a prayer book, we are reading our worship (until it becomes a part of us to where we can riff).All worship is valuable. And as we wrestle with what that looks like in a Jewish context, approaching it Jewishly is also not "selling out." It is doing worship the way our people have for thousands of years.By asking these questions – and developing meaningful worship experiences, we continue that unbroken chain of our people and our tradition.

  18. Judah Himango says:

    Monique, isn't the purpose of all this dialogue a humble assessment of the theological paradigmSingling out the way most Messianics worship and labeling it as "happy clappy and weepy sleepy" is neither humble nor an accurate assessment.But neither can I have a constructive dialogue with you about them if they're wedded to your emotions.I'm tempted to respond to your passive-aggressive insults, but I won't. Instead I'll say this: I'm passionate about a few things in life; worship and praise for God is one of them.

  19. Monique says:

    And so am I. Hence the blog post on LITURGY as WORSHIP. And my continued stance that we've created a false dichotomy between the two concepts.The words "happy clappy" and "weepy sleepy" are a caricature, nothing more. I'm sorry to have offended you through my choice of words.

  20. Judah Himango says:

    Forgiven. And I apologize for inflating your words beyond their intention.

  21. Tzoani says:

    I have been greatly uplifted by traditional liturgy in Orthodox synagogues, and also by the contemporary praise of the modern-day Messianic Jewish movement. Both heartfelt davening from the Siddur, and the joy of contemporary worship is beautiful to Hashem.Maybe we somehow could enjoy the best of both worlds? And Messianic Jews (and Gentile Christians), let's stick together, loving and forgiving each other. We all love Yeshua, and follow Him. How cool that we're all different, but still equal to Him.Shana tova!

  22. David L. Craig says:

    Wow! This is a great discussion. I will add what I think is missing.Liturgy is ritual, a very important concept G-d designed into us and into which sociology has given us much insight. It's no fun to live in an extreme earthquake zone but everyone should feel the ground move beneath them without warning every now and then. New ideas must be tested with gentleness and moderation, those that work should be ritualized, and those that don't, discarded; but beware of attempting to erect tabernacles on the mountaintop to freeze that which cannot and must not be frozen. The older the liturgical element, the greater should be the respect for its importance to the community. If the Spirit rarely initiates left turns in the service without warning leadership ahead of time, something is too rigid for the congregation's good.I pray I haven't offended anyone.

  23. Rabbi Joshua says:

    David-Thanks for chiming in!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Excellent. Spot on. Wish more people 'got' this.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Coming from a congregation that has the "2 happy-clappy songs, followed by 3 weepy-sleepy songs" formula well established, I understand exactly what Monique is describing. But during the Neilah service, my "deep longing to simultaneously connect with G-d and to find one's place within thirty centuries of Jewish history" was wonderfully met while simultaneously praying for the lives of my family during a contemporary worship song and contemplating the shofer blast that marks the closing of the book for another year. It wasn't either the music or traditional liturgy alone, but the participation in the service through music combined with the understanding of the Jewish tradition that came together and allowed for the heartfelt connection with G-d. That's what Messianic Jewish communities should be about.Kathy

  26. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Kathy,Agreed. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Dan Benzvi says:

    My heart is melting reading this attempt at piety….So I ask all the attendies of MJ congregations, in the last theree months how many Jews walked into your congregations off the streets? this virtual reality game is sickening. we praise god because we want to praise God, not because we want to attract Jews…Did any of you checked Synagogues in Israel? They sell blessings on Yom Kippur…They turned the synagogues into supermarkets. 50,000 Shekels for a prosperity blessing..OY, if one has 50,000 Shekels to throw out, then he is prosperous enough, no?With all this said, I did not think for a moment Monique wrote thre post to attack. I think the Yinon blog and Carl Kinbar are truely seeking a way to educate their people.

  28. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Dan,Thanks for your comment. And just to clarify, this post was motivated by the fact that we are used to regularly having Jews walk into our congregations from off the streets (and in many cases, STAY).Hope you had a meaningful Yom Kippur.

  29. rik says:

    Thanks Monique for this needed critique. And for your caricature critique. I have never heard it stated that way; however as one who has been in the position to aid congregations in prayerful identity and communication with HaShem. And that can only truly be done with sencitive interaction with his Holy Spirit. I've had this disscussion with other Prayer leader musicians,and congregatiional leaders both M.J. and christian. That very stucture has become leturgic. David you came in like a wise sage, with your comment that eluded to leaders needing to being awear of canges even curves coming up in the river of life. not to get cought frozen. A pastor friend of mine says, setting up camp under the trees buy the river of life. With respect to spontaineous expression in the congregational context, it had better been inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh, then directed by Him note by note. If not, then the word spontaineous is being used for something else that is an attempt to be more contemporaneous. Yahnatan Lasko was spot on in understanding what Monique was observing. Infact Yahnatan you included some christian, religious trendy, religious subcultural, contemporary prayer redoric, that was also spot on to the neshama of this wonderful discussion. To reidorate, it is an awesome responablity that humbles me everytime I engage with a large congregation or a small gathering. seeking a connection with Adoni, and having that confermed by the presence of the Ruach. For that reason identifying when and where we can be the most effective leaders (not the most authentic)Possible is what is being presented here. We all know In music and prayer we have an audiance of ONE,(is our first liturgy,The Shemah), and to co-create an environment that draws others into that heavenly place in time is what my impression of what Monique is adressing here. Not filling theater seats.

  30. rik says:

    That established pattern for the music to facilitate the structure of the service come right out of the fundamentalist and evangelical church foremat. Part of the Bible college Prepetory process for evey good ol' pastor. Start the service with a lively up tempo(up-beat) song to get the peoples attention, get them in their seats, wake them up to the service. Play another, to transfer the mindset form the weeks downers to be happy in Jesus. Two more songs to get seriously focused on jesus, Then another more serious, usualy a solo with a theme realated to the message(teaching). By the Charismatic a song to get the congregation more senceitve to hte Holy Spirit, then the solo. Then to around the camp fire during the folk music era, and out of and during ending of that era came the pioneering music of the new Messianic movement. On to Messianic congregations, and the church converts to the movement and the former church pastors that became messianic congregational lesders and the "worship leaders" with them. Is that where Jewish or at least Messianic Jews got the term "Worship Leader"? Does that fit with any Hebrew word that was translated Worship, from Torah, Tehillim, or the Prophets? Where's this music specific definition of worship used in the church coincide with the Hebrew life of Biblical worship that a Jewish raised person would understand. That is way my previous referances never used a term I hope will someday be revised in respect to the integrity of Scripture, and our service in and to Jeshua. I hope I didn't offend anyone. I love all your desire to do service for Adoni and honor the name of Jeshua in your living. Or throw another monky-wrench in the works.

  31. rik says:

    Reb Joshua you and Monique have posted recent crtitcal topics impotant to maintaining meaningful life in the future the the Jewish Messianec Movement. With blogs like this and Gathering Sparks, The future is good and old guys like me love it. Reb Josh, your 2 cents worth is always worth at least 6 bits.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Great post. I couldn't have said it better. I'm glad I'm not the only one who notices this pattern and the need to rethink the way we approach Jewish prayer & liturgy in the Messianic Movement. Thanks for re-posting this from last year.

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