September 2011 - Jamie Cowen

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My passion in life is to serve the Lord.  When the Lord called me into ministry in 1986, the last thing in the world I considered was being a rabbi.  At the time I was not involved in Messianic Judaism, but God had been leading me for some time to explore my Jewish heritage.  (I, like so many others, had effectively relinquished my Jewish identity to become a believer.)  On a business trip to San Francisco, I decided to stop in to visit with Jews for Jesus.  I met with Moshe Rosen and Mitch Glazer about my calling to the ministry. They challenged me to consider some seminary training prior to entering the ministry.  When I returned to the Washington, DC area, I discovered a Messianic Jewish seminary in my backyard.  My enrollment began a process leading to becoming a rabbi and placement in a fledgling congregation in Richmond, Virginia, Tikvat Israel.

These past 22 years have been amazing.  I've been recollecting a lot more lately because in the next few months my wife and I are moving to Israel. Over the years my two greatest joys are (1) seeing Jews accept Yeshua as Messiah and live out a Jewish identity in Him, and (2) seeing Jews, like me, who had relinquished their Jewishness to follow Yeshua, get re-connected to their heritage through congregational life.  I enjoy meeting with other Jews, examining questions about life and seeing them become true servants of God.  It amazes me to this day when so many of our congregants tell me the Shabbat message spoke to them.  What's funny is often they'll explain how God spoke to them when it's something I never mentioned in my message.  I know then that it truly was God speaking.

To this day, I still get a thrill from Shabbat services.  In one sense, by the end of service, Oneg and meeting folks, I'm exhausted. In another, however, I get spiritually lifted by worship (my wife is the worship leader, and, if I may say so, the best there is).  Seeing so many people active for the Lord during service and excelling at what they do is fulfilling. Finally, I enjoy speaking.  Someone asked me recently about my notes (I still use yellow legal pads), and whether there were any duplicates.  I said no.  Each week I seek God for His message, and while at times there's a struggle to discover the appropriate theme, by Friday I know what I will say.  My goal for a message is for people to experience God and to realize He has life's answers, to experience a world beyond the mundane and to broaden the horizons of the listeners.

Recently, my wife asked me if I was tired of being a rabbi. I said at times I am - it can be very challenging.  But it's also who I am.  As we relocate to Israel and we face a whole new set of challenges, I can't imagine being anything other than a rabbi.

Read more about Rabbi Cowen on his profile page.