This weekend my husband Tommy and I had the privilege of attending the First Western Regional Bney Yosef North America (BYNA) National Shabbat in Salem, Oregon. We flew from South Carolina to Seattle to visit my good friend Amy and took her and another friend Michelle with us. I will do my best to describe what I experienced at this family reunion!
We arrived at the National Armory Building in Salem with much anticipation and excitement after a long traffic filled drive from Seattle. We knew we were going to see familiar faces as well as meet new family members. As we entered the building there was hustle and bustle as people were preparing a banquet to share with one another. We walked into an older style gymnasium type of room with hardwood floors and bleacher style wooden chairs. Tables were decorated and chairs set up to welcome the invited guests.
The evening opened with the blowing of shofars and then Tommy & I welcoming everyone to the gathering. Grape juice and delicious challah bread were presented and we all recited the traditional blessings together before we dined on a variety of food at the amazing banquet tables. Hebrews know how to throw a party!
We spent about an hour feasting on food and fellowship before Tommy & I were asked to share about BYNA and the National Shabbat Initiative. We transitioned with prayer and the worship team, “Aliyah” lead us in song while Daniel & Sylvia Calderon lead us in the dance. Here is a link to a video of one of the songs: Worship at BYNA National Shabbat in Salem. It was a glorious time in the presence of YHVH! We experienced a very special time of unity that has pervaded EVERY BYNA National Shabbat gathering we have attended.
I understand from some of those in attendance that major reconciliation and restoration took place that night! Hallelujah!
We had the privilege of meeting several of the BYNA Strategic Prayer warriors, one of them being Nana Joy! This mighty woman of the Most High is a blessing to the Kingdom!
As in most gatherings, we did not want it to end! We returned the Armory back to the way we found it and headed to the home of our friend Eunice for some rest.
Shabbat morning was spent with more fellowship around the table enjoying breakfast together before heading to the home of Don & Cindy Wyant for the afternoon Shabbat gathering. We arrived around 2pm and were graciously welcomed by Cindy and some of the “new” family we met the night before. In keeping with tradition, we started our time together blessing YHVH for the food and then eating a delicious meal together.
The shofars called us to order, we sang the “Shema” and the entered into a time of praise, worship, and dance. We were all encouraged to share. Several prayed, spoke words of knowledge, read Scripture, and sang songs. The presence of YHVH was tangible.
I was prompted to share something YHVH had spoke to me a few days before while Tommy, Amy and I enjoyed a day at a small cabin on the Hood Canal. We went for a walk while waiting for the tide to come in so we could go for a canoe ride and came upon what appeared to be two streams; one coming from the canal and the other flowing the opposite way. At one point the two seemed to “converge” and create this swirly looking area that came together and sort of danced in a circle.
When we returned to the cabin I asked the Father what, if anything, was He trying to show me. I looked up the definition of converge and this is what I found:
- (of several people or things) come together from different directions so as eventually to meet.
- (of a number of things) gradually change so as to become similar or develop something in common.
- come from different directions and meet at (a place)
At the National Shabbat gathering and in the Wyant’s backyard, a group of people from different parts of the country, state, and region, gathered to meet (converge) for a common purpose; to honor YHVH on Shabbat! We came together like different streams, meeting at a specific location and intersecting with each other through food, fellowship, and worship. Our hearts were knit together. Additional “threads” were being added to the beautiful tapestry YHVH is creating through the BYNA National Shabbat Initiative.
I want to encourage you to attend a BYNA National Shabbat gathering if there is one in your area. The website Bney Yosef National Shabbat has details of upcoming gatherings. It is time for us to come together and worship the Creator, YHVH, in unity with diversity. We had an amazing time at our “family reunion” in Salem. Thanks to all of you who prayed, made food, lead worship & dance, and organized this wonderful time! We look forward to seeing you again!