Just the other day, I was sharing with a couple of visitors about the various aspects of life and service at Shevet Achim. It’s true that we seek ways to love our neighbours and anyone who passes through our door. This outward demonstration of love however could not be sustained over time unless there was a greater work taking place within. Jesus told his disciples, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you I abide in me…Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4,5). If worship remains at the heart of our community, I believe we have yet to see the fullness of God’s Spirit moving and working.
So, what does it look like for our community of international believers to daily “abide in the vine?” If you come for a visit at 29 HaNeviim, you may be disappointed to find that we are not a group of saints. What you will find, however, are men and women genuinely seeking to know and love God in the midst of our struggles and weaknesses. Meeting each morning for a couple hours to sing, pray, and open the Scriptures together is not only beneficial–it’s essential to providing a basis of truth for what we’re doing here. And love which flows from truth leads to beautiful things.
Shevet Achim happens to be minutes away from some of the most biblically significant sites in Jerusalem–sites which also make for some lovely places to worship. Last Friday, our staff made our way through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old City to the gate of St. Anne’s Church.
This outing was made even more special in that it coincided with the celebration of our German volunteer Marisa’s birthday. Marisa has enriched our community with her musical gifting on the piano and her love for praising God through song. While we didn’t have a piano to accompany our worship that day, the acoustics of St. Anne’s voluminous basilica lifted our voices, as well our spirits, heavenward.
A musical theme continued in a birthday dinner that evening for Marisa, where we presented her with a songbook filled with Arabic and Hebrew worship songs. I know we all look forward to singing these songs together in the weeks to come!
As our community lives and grows together as a family in Messiah, may our response in any circumstance, whether joyous or tragic, be to worship. If there is one thing I have learned in my time at Shevet, it is that nothing is worth anything unless Messiah is first in our hearts. If we love, it is because He loved us first. So, may we live to worship Him and, as David wrote, “praise [Him] yet more and more.” Psalm 71:14b