Archive for Saturday, April 3, 2004

Messianic Jew evangelist to conduct Passover Seder

April 3, 2004

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Passover, which begins at sundown Monday, is a traditional Jewish holiday marking the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. Yet, according to Jeffrey D. Miller, it also potentially has great meaning for Christians looking back at the roots of their faith. And Jesus has a role to play in Passover, too.

Miller is a Messianic Jew, a person who identifies himself or herself as Jewish, but believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, in contradiction to traditional Jewish theology.

Miller, a nationally known Messianic Jewish evangelist based in Reading, Pa., will present "Jesus in the Passover Seder" from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 10 at Clinton Parkway Assembly of God, 3200 Clinton Parkway. He will lead participants at the event through a presentation of a complete Jewish Seder, or Passover meal.

A Seder is a meal that, through rituals and the eating of certain foods, symbolically recreates for Jewish people the story of the Hebrew Exodus from slavery. During the meal, Jews use a Haggadah, a text retelling the holiday story.

But Miller's Seder will have a significant difference.

"We (Messianic Jews) believe that in the traditional Jewish Seder, there are a number of pointers directly to Jesus. In addition, Jesus started Communion at a Passover Seder (the Last Supper)," he said.

"I'll conduct a Passover Seder, but I will be teaching about the combination of understanding the Jewish custom and tradition, as well as teaching the scriptural reality of Jesus -- meaning that they go together."

Miller's event will feature a full meal. Participants will also learn about the symbolic elements of the Seder plate: a lamb shank, bitter herbs, salt water, parsley, a roasted egg and haroset (a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, honey, wine and spices).

Miller, producer and co-host of the syndicated radio program "Messianic Minutes" (heard on many Christian radio stations, including Topeka's Joy 88), planned to present Jesus in a new light during the event in Lawrence.







Jeffrey D. Miller, a nationally known Messianic Jewish evangelist, will present "Jesus in the Passover Seder" from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 10 at Clinton Parkway Assembly of God, 3200 Clinton Parkway.Miller will lead participants through a Passover Seder meal, explaining the meaning of the different foods and rituals of the holiday.The event will include a full meal for each participant. Tickets cost $5 per person, and the seder is open to the community. A freewill offering will be accepted.Miller will also minister at the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Easter Sunday services at the church.Miller is the producer and co-host of the syndicated radio program "Messianic Minutes," which is heard on many Christian radio stations.To learn more about his radio program, visit the Web site at www.messianicminutes.com.

"I know that they (participants) will see Jesus as they've never seen him before and understand him in his Jewishness," he said.

"I'm hoping that there will be lots of people (at the Seder) who believe in Jesus who will learn more about him, and lots of people who doubt him who will learn the truth about him."

Miller, who is not a rabbi, said he has given this presentation many times at churches around the country.

Rabbi Scott White expressed skepticism about the event, as well as the theology behind it.

"If he (Miller) purports to be practicing a type of Judaism, then I would have to take issue. The problem is not a Jewish person believing Jesus is the Messiah. The problem is saying that it somehow fits under the rubric of Judaism -- it doesn't," said White, spiritual leader of the Lawrence Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Drive.

"From one end of the spectrum to the other among the Jewish denominations, there is universal agreement that the Messiah hasn't come yet."

White said that while he had no knowledge of Miller's particular ministry, he would be concerned if the Seder were specifically designed to introduce Jews to a belief in Jesus.

"If he's targeting Jews and telling them that they can practice Judaism and believe Jesus is the Messiah, then I have a problem with that. I'm not sure that's what he's doing," he said.

Would it be appropriate for Jews to attend Miller's Seder?

"You're free to go, but it's not Judaism. If you start to believe that that is a form of Judaism, then you're removing yourself from the established Jewish world, where there is universal agreement that Jesus is not the Messiah," White said.

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