The Hallelujah Factor

Dear Fellow Worker,

Christmas 2008 was dominated by the word hallelujah. Not only through the traditional performances of Handel’s Messiah but also because in the music charts there were at least four versions of Hallelujah, the song that won The X Factor
In the last few years Leonard Cohen’s lugubrious hymn to the futility of carnal relationships has become a kind of anthem for a generation that appears to know everything about sex but nothing about love. Cohen comes from a Jewish tradition that says, “If you want to live, expect pain” and though we may find the lyrics of Hallelujah uncomfortable, and possibly offensive, there is a biblical ring to them – albeit with some kabbalistic and even Christian undertones. Cohen’s version of the song concludes with the touching lines: “I did my best, it wasn’t much/I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch/I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you/And even though it all went wrong/I’ll stand before the Lord of Song/With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”.

I identify with that. So many times after I’ve done my best and it’s all gone wrong, like Job, I have stood – or knelt – before the Lord and poured out my hallelujahs, acknowledging that he gives and he takes away and that, however it might appear to me, he “works all things according to the counsel of his will”. We really do have no control over our lives. Bishop Tom Wright, in his comments on the letter to the Colossians, makes the point that although twenty-first century people no longer live in fear of invisible spiritual forces, they live in dread of invisible, unpredictable “market forces”.

Little wonder. Since the summer of 2008 some of the most respected financial institutions in the world have collapsed and several of our best known high street retailers have gone to the wall. Who would have believed, a year ago, that in less than twelve months we would witness banks going bust, a country declaring itself bankrupt and the demise of Woollies? And to top it all, according to at least one financial source, the UK is now “lurching towards insolvency”.

The credit crunch is no respecter of organisations and even Christian missions have been hit by the recession. However it is not only the current economic crisis that has taken its toll on CWI but also the conflict in Gaza. Our colleagues in Israel felt the impact of the hostility of Hamas (a rocket hit a house three doors away from where the Zadok family lives) and Rita Gibson’s brother witnessed a missile hit an apartment block across the street from his house. Thankfully, however, the flying bomb did not hit the Zadok home where Eti and the children were sheltering and neither Rita’s family nor any of our friends and colleagues were injured. So whilst we mourn with those who have lost loved ones we can praise the Lord for keeping safe those known to us.

Although donations have dropped significantly over the last six months our funding has not dried up completely. Hallelujah! We still have faithful supporters who give what they can and we praise the Lord for every gift, large and small, and thank those individuals and churches who, sensing that this is a difficult time for us, have actually increased their level of giving. We praise the Lord for those supporters who, although they are unable to give as much as they would like, assure us that they pray for us. We praise the Lord that he has promised to supply all our needs and for the assurance that ministry dedicated to the salvation of Israel cannot fail. However, we do need your help for you are the channels through which the Lord himself provides. Hallelujah!

Hallelujah is Leonard Cohen’s “secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord”. During a previous economic recession, there was a travelling evangelist who, on hearing that the price of petrol had risen, would say, “Hallelujah! More to trust the Lord for!” That’s an attitude I aspire to emulate. If I sound glib and superficial let me assure you that I am not hiding my head in the sand. I know this year is going to be incredibly tough for us all and there are days when I’m gripped by an almost paralysing sense of dread and foreboding. But though we look to those of you who share our “heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel” to stand by us, our faith is ultimately in Yahweh Yireh, the Lord our provider.

To misquote another Jewish songwriter, “There may be trouble ahead” but while there’s a God on the throne of heaven who has promised to save Israel and supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Messiah Jesus, “let’s face the music” and say, “Hallelujah!”

Yours for the salvation of Israel,

Mike Moore

This article first appeared in the Spring 2009 edition of the Herald

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