Anticipation bubbles along my skin. A light spills from the door of my Bible class bracketing a short line of chattering adults in an otherwise, grey and monotonous hall. There are other doorways open; but none with this much interest, this much activity. This is a class unlike any other in my church.
This Wednesday night Bible class is led by a rabbi. There are long tables covered in the deep Israeli blue at the front of the room, with photographs and artifacts from Jerusalem. The walls are covered with posters. And tonight, there is a cake. A whole, big sheet cake, snow blind with white icing and piped in royal blue. It is someone's birthday.
Gentle rabbi, a believer in Yeshua the Messiah, takes us on a calendar journal into the land that has been called the center of the world for worshippers, the most sacred spot on earth.
In the hour that unfolds, he underscores again and again, with unremitting purpose, that God is a God of order and He works in seasons and embeds rhythm and acts on specific days. His proof is first from Biblical text and then from Israel's timeline. We can expect, he tells us, that this God whose sun, moon, and stars are similar to the cogs and wheels in the Swiss watch, paragon of precision, to work in our lives with the same attention to detail.
We sing Happy Birthday, to Israel; a rainbow arches over the church campus.
I sit me here on the following Sabbath, staring at the shoe boxes scattered all around me, the tissue paper floating to the floor like feathers from an angel's wing. I am opening them now, but they arrived on the Wednesday, of Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's birthday, day of independence). They have traveled all the way from Israel.
I have chosen these shoes because once, many years ago I owned a pair and they lasted me a decade. The most comfortable sandals I ever owned. In the 1980's, the shop in Israel where they were made faltered, but at long last,the vigor of the industry has re-ignited, and I have found them again. The prosperity of the company is foretold in the sheer number of styles now available.
In the sole of my shoe, there is a word in Hebrew. I slip on the shoes and stand on the language of the Bible. I suspect it is the Hebraic rendering of the logo, but I will imagine that its translation goes something like this,
"Yet the Lord says, 'During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out,
nor did the sandals on your feet.' "
~ Deuteronomy 29:5
Shoes of promise. It has been seven years since my Egypt, where bricks were demanded without straw. Seven years this week, since I came home and prepared a detailed list for packing and moving out. Without my salary, we would surely lose most of what we owned, and we steeled ourselves for the notice that would surely be pinned to our door when we did not meet mortgage.
Seven years. We lived on the manna that came faithfully, unexpectedly, provisionally. Jehovah-Jireh.
Here I sit in my candle lit home this Sabbath evening in Spring, surrounded by my Israeli shoes of promise.
Happy Birthday, Israel.
The roots of my faith are in you. We have much in common.
Your Messiah is my Messiah.
And in my Israeli sandals (i chose the stardust leather), I stand with you.
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." ~ Psalm 122:6