The Importance of the Life We Share

Greeting our customers at our Yellow Delis this month is a sign similar to the following.* Signs such as this are growing familiar to our customers over the course of each passing year. Truly a different year than the year celebrated at large, whatever calendar one goes by… The “up side” of our unusual “days off” is the days we are open — all the normal holidays of America’s folk religion. We are there for the lonely and the needy.

Yellow Deli Closure Notice - Vista, CA

Yellow Deli Closure Notice for 2013 – Vista, CA

In the eighth Newsletter, “The Best Day for Business,” we discussed how faith ought to (but usually doesn’t) affect one’s daily life, business decisions, and treatment of others. These three should come together on the Sabbath, the outward sign of that faith… at least according to what God spoke in Exodus 31:13-17.The lack of businesses being closed on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday is an indication of the powerlessness of three of the world’s greatest religions to actually affect the practical lives of their adherents.

As much as their consciences will allow (some more than others, of course), most people do what is in their own best interests. This is true regardless of their claims to adhere to (believe in, trust, have faith in) Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. Closing their businesses or not working on Saturday for Jewish people (or Messianic Christians), on Sunday for most Christians, or on Friday for Muslims, is not, in most people’s private judgments, in their best interest. So that’s how they act.

That is why their faith seems to so slightly instead of so greatly affect their lives. A long generation ago, a church historian argued that

All too many pews are filled on Sunday with practical atheists — disguised nonbelievers who behave during the rest of the week as if God did not exist.

[Martin Marty, quoted in Time Magazine, April 8, 1966.]

Being compelled, however, by “blue laws” to close on days they do not personally regard as holy makes no one more holy or better or righteous. Whenever religion and the state come together — indeed, when either oversteps its boundaries — freedom of conscience is the victim. Roger Williams, an American who should be famous, called such coercion “soul rape.” (For more on him, see the previous newsletter, “He has made from one blood every nation of men.”)

Days that Do Matter

The importance of the life outside our Yellow Delis (or any of our other occupations) is that they give creditability to the faith we demonstrate in them. Many of us knew we were “disguised nonbelievers” behaving the “rest of the week as if God did not exist.” But we wanted out! We wanted a way of life that was completely harmonious with what we believed. In the Twelve Tribes we have found that. And that is why our businesses and our labor must cease on the Sabbath and the High Sabbaths throughout the year — because the God we worship and serve commands it. Apart from obedience to His word we are left only serving our selfish interests, deceiving ourselves.

The high days of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are, for us, “appointed feasts of Yahweh” where all “shall not do any ordinary work” (Leviticus 23:4-8). Nor have we been left alone to muddle through the keeping of these high days as though they had no meaning, as though they were just another meaningless ritual. It was the Apostle Paul who enlightened us about the ways we could be leavened, and the perilous outcome of being so.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

It’s in our thoughts that we are leavened (malice and evil) or unleavened (sincerity and truth). Did the Corinthians become leavened? How about the Romans? Is the Christian Church, with its forty thousand plus denominations, leavened? You be the judge. Could that lump be any more puffed up and divided?

Where the Spirit Speaks to the Churches

To understand how this festival is brought into the New Covenant, you have to first understand what the church is. It’s more than a community of goods, where all who believe live together, as Acts 2:44 says, sharing all things in common. It’s much more than that. (What else can they do after giving up all things to become His disciple? Luke 14:31-3 is the least discussed and most misunderstood parable in all of Christendom, although its meaning is all too clear.)

It’s even more than the Commonwealth of Israel where we are no longer by ourselves in the world, alien to the covenants of promise, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:12. The church has a visible, identifiable, and unique corporate worship where all can and do speak the very words of God as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:11. The church is then the Body of Messiah on earth. To understand how the church must be, see how He was with His disciples while He walked the earth. He was setting patterns that all who believe in Him would follow.

In The Litmus Test from 2004, see the article, “Circle of Disciples” on pages 46-47.

The first picture of this kind of gathering is in the gospels. Consider Mark 3:21-35, the story of His family fearing for His sanity. When they heard He was too busy to even eat, “they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind’” (Mark 3:21). But had He lost His mind? Was He on His way to becoming a dangerous cult leader? Or had He transcended their understanding and was busy making a new wineskin in which would be poured the new wine of the Spirit?

Our Master spoke to those sitting around Him in a circle (Mark 3:34). So that is what those belonging to Him have to be like when they gather together. That is what you will find in our midst — people gathered who can see each other (not the backs of the heads of those in the pew in front of them), speak to one another, and hear one another. And each person has to pay attention to the one who is speaking (Revelation 3:22). All need to listen to what the Spirit says to the “circle.” The circle is the church.

Spring Cleaning

Of course, we make sure our homes are clean. Undoubtedly spring cleaning comes down to us from the command in the Scripture to remove all leaven from our homes. But it is more than that; it is the inner cleaning of Pesach (Passover) that is important. So once again, we will spend Passover talking about the leaven, and we will eradicate it completely. Then we will share the things we understand about leaven, until the festival is over. And is that all? Is that our last time to speak of leaven until next year? No, we’ve got to walk in this way, laboring to keep our spiritual house clean of all leaven, not just once a year. We don’t wait until next year to get the leaven out.

Every spiritual movement in history bears sorry and sometimes poignant witness to the truth of Paul’s words, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” The Spirit is even now, once again, calling together those who will keep the feasts in sincerity and truth.

For the Communities of the Twelve Tribes,

Kevin Carlin

P.S.  There was a confusing sentence in the last Newsletter about the gift of land to Roger Williams by the Narragansett sachems. It should read like this:

Before leaving Salem, Williams already had arranged with the sachems for a tract of land large enough to support a colony. They would not accept money in payment for the land. “It was not price or money that could have purchased Rhode Island,” Williams wrote later. “Rhode Island was purchased by love.” {“Testimony of Roger Williams relative to the deed to Rhode Island, dated Providence 25, 6. 1658.” In the Letters of Roger Williams, p. 305, ed. J. R. Bartlett (Narragansett Club, 1874).}

First sent out as Newsletter 14 on March 8, 2013.

* The exact hour of closing and re-opening may differ from place to place.