On the 15th of July our Hebrew-speaking kehilah, קהילה (congregation/community), had a time of blessing the new babies. Since Emmylou's birth at the end of February four more babies have been born in the small community and two of the other families were present for this time of prayer and rejoicing. Standing in front of so many believing Jews who live in Israel was a bit incredible. To have a child in Jerusalem is a blessing, and so is the opportunity to raise her, and Cassidy, with an awareness of their spiritual family roots. The importance of the Jewish people changes when it leaves the pages of the Bible and enters into every day life. They are not spiritual beings but friends with whom we break bread and laugh and pray.
That morning Eddie passed the microphone from each mother and we prayed for our daughters (Hallel and Eliyah and Emmylou). Without much time to prepare the one thing that was pressed upon my heart was Emmylou's identity: She is grafted into this family of Jewish believers, to be a help, not a hindrance, and ultimately she is a child of the Most High.
Why did I pray this? After all, her name has so much meaning. I could have prayed into her role as a warrior, or the goodness of the Father to give us another child after the absence of our sons. But in the situation, surrounded by people who have given up so much to live in the land of their fathers and to hold firmly to their Jewish Messiah I was overwhelmed with the desire to call her into her role as a Messianic Gentile. It's an important role, a calling worth pursuing.
As if to prove my point Asher taught on faith and referenced Matthew 15:22-28,
And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O L-rd, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "L-rd, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, L-rd, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Asher admonished us to pray with the passion and trust of the Canaanite woman. For us, as Gentiles, it's a powerful message. This Canaanite mother recognized Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah, connecting him with King David even though her background was not Jewish. Acknowledging Yeshua as the Son of David is a powerful statement for anyone to make.
Yet even when Yeshua tells her that He's come only for 'the house of Israel' and not her she presses Him further. She acknowledges she is not Jewish but does not let this stop her from pursuing His healing. She persists in asking for His "crumbs" (because anything from His table is better than nothing!) and He is clearly moved. He not only heals her daughter but describes her emunah, אמונה (faith/trust), as great.
This teaching seems a perfect fit for the blessing of Emmylou Achinoam, and our whole family for that matter. There aren't many stories of Yeshua interacting with Gentiles, but this one (and the centurion who recognized Yeshua's authority) shows us that He hears the cries of our hearts, especially when we know our identities within the Body. Knowing our roles as Gentiles, or Jews, brings about greater power and unity within the Body of Yeshua. We are not all the same and that is okay. In fact, that's the way He designed it!
Last Saturday we stood with our Jewish brothers and sisters, heard their prayers for our daughter (thanks to our friend Simcha's translation) and we rejoiced together as "one new man", Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2 -- Go ahead, read the whole chapter).