The joy of re-connection with old friends! Real friends. How is it I’ve been away from them for so long? There have been lonely gaps in those years and now time is moving on and the years haven’t been kind to all, and taken some… But there we go, there are journeys in life and pathways that lead us here and there and away from the familiar and crosses the paths of others who enrich us or, challenge us. But so nice to return to familiar faces and feel…connections.
The Torah Portion this week begins with connections. Moshe addresses them in Deuteronomy 29 as they stand together. Linked to each other because of birth and to God by the covenant they agreed to at Sinai. Leaders, men, women and children – and strangers. All! They stand as a community but each one shares the responsibility to listen and absorb, [shma] and obey. The community is only as strong as the individual commitment. They stand despite doubts and fears, and failures and the threat of curses delivered not long before. “You stand today!” says Moshe. Whatever the past brought and whatever the unknown future will bring, it is Today that counts.
There is something rather beautiful in these opening verses. It is that ‘strangers’ stood there too. Not linked by birth, but linked by being there, standing with the Jewish community, before the God of Israel and listening to Torah/Divine Instructions.
Please God, I’m standing there too, a stranger, a ‘ger’ stranger, not a ‘nokriy’ stranger with foreign ways and no time for a holy God. A ‘ger’, one who stands with the Jewish people, embracing the principles of holy living they follow, grateful for the plan of redemption that God unfolded throughout their history and for the price they often paid for being a ‘set apart’ people.
“Therefore, remember that once you, the Goyim in the flesh…that you were at that time separate from Messiah…strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off are made near…” Ephesians 2:10-13