Celebrating Shabbat Texas Style!
The National Shabbat movement arrived in the Lone Star State through a gathering of about 100 people on March 19 at Fischer Park in the city of New Braunfels. As with National Shabbats in Georgia and South Carolina, some participants traveled many hours to get there, coming from as far away as Sabine Pass on the Louisiana border, Wichita Falls near the Oklahoma border, Arlington in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, and Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast. Most of those assembled in New Braunfels came from around Austin (Georgetown, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Kyle) and San Antonio (Boerne, Converse, Poteet, Adkins, Floresville), with a significant number from the Houston area (Katy, Sugarland, Pasadena).
The gathering was a success as we enjoyed unhindered worship of our Messiah Yeshua in the covenant context of our Hebraic identity. In keeping with the spirit of the National Shabbat, Mike Pantuso of Believer’s New Covenant Messianic Ministries opened the gathering with a reading of Psalm 133:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever. (Psalm 133:1-3 NASB)
San Antonio musicians Nathan Pantuso, Rachel Bounds, Caleb Camero, and Troy LeBlanc led a time of worship that reflected the reverent shalom of the day. Ephraim and Rimona Frank, lately arrived from the most recent National Shabbat in North Georgia, and from the B’ney Yosef North America Summit, then addressed the gathering. Their inspiring words addressed the expectant hope that YHVH is restoring the children of Joseph – the dry bones of the Ephraimite nation of Northern Israel long prophesied to return to life and be joined with our Jewish brethren upon Messiah’s coming as King over all Israel.
Ephraim’s message drew from the lesson of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the place built at the Creator’s direction as the center of His Presence among His people. The Mishkan provides a picture of how our God dwells within His people through the gift of His Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19-20; II Corinthians 6:16-18). Thanks to Yeshua’s work two millennia ago, this picture has been understood on a personal level. Now, at the fullness of time, it is beginning to be understood on a national level as YHVH resurrects the long-dead Ephraimite part of His covenant nation of Israel.
This message was echoed in a second musical offering provided by Solomon (Shlomo) Lopez of Corpus Christi. Solomon’s anointed music flows with the message of Ephraim’s return. A sample of it is accessible on his YouTube channel at this link:
Three presenters followed Solomon. Al McCarn provided a report on the B’ney Yosef North America Summit, including in it the story of the B’ney Yosef initiative from its beginning after the Feast of Tabernacles in October 2014 when the idea of the First B’ney Yosef National Congress was born. He was followed by two stirring testimonies. The first was from Sister Kay who now lives in Aqaba, Jordan, a place some believe will be a destination for returning Ephraimites of the House of Yosef one day. The second testimony was from John McQuary of Houston, who encouraged everyone with his story of God’s provision for his family during their many years of service to Him in the Land of Israel.
What is next for the National Shabbat in Texas? From the conversations heard during the day it seems that the people of Houston, San Antonio, and Austin are considering a rotating National Shabbat event at least quarterly, giving congregations and communities in each metropolitan area a chance to host one another. The representatives from North Texas are also encouraged to establish a National Shabbat in their region which could include people from Wichita Falls, Dallas-Fort Worth, Marshall, Longview, and other points to the north, east, and west.
Those in Arizona will be glad to know that the next National Shabbat on the calendar happens this very weekend, March 25-26, 2016, at Living Messiah Ministries in Mesa. I begins on Erev Shabbat (Friday, March 25) with a Purim celebration, and continues the following days with worship led by Kerry Alexander and Jubilation Band, and presentations by Ephraim and Rimona Frank. More information is available at this link:
The National Shabbat is expanding! Look for announcements of upcoming gatherings and ideas on how to host one in your area at www.nationalshabbat.com.