Reading For The Day:
From Christian Scripture, Matthew 5…
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
You are the light of the world.
A city built on a hill cannot be hid.
No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on a lamp stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way let your light shine before others that they might see your good works and give glory to God in heaven.
Message for the Day:
It has been a challenging month for me.
And maybe for you, as well.
I can usually manufacture some emotional space between the headlines in the news and my daily life, but this month has been different. The headlines have been relentless stacking up one right after another…
Three Israeli teens abducted and murdered.
A Palestinian teen murdered in retaliation.
A plane shot down over Ukraine.
Rockets launched towards Israel.
Missiles fired into Gaza.
Leading to an escalating violence with no end in sight.
All those headlines don’t even include ISIS and Afghanistan and Libya and Nigeria or the countless other places around the world broken by violence or disease or hunger or corruption.
A part of what has been hard for me may be a level of fatigue.
I am ready for some vacation and time away to read books and to walk in the woods and to see and spend time with family and friends. And, some of it has been the challenging conversations I have had and continue to have with Jewish colleagues and neighbors about what is happening in Israel and in Gaza, and doing my best to understand and to balance their attachment to Israel and its need for security and the desperate plight of the Palestinian people, most of whom are innocent caught in a deadly standoff and crossfire.
I have been scrambling to hold onto hope.
Which is not a position I have found myself in very often.
But even in the chaos and whether I feel it or know it in any particular moment, hope is present.
- I hold onto the incredible witness of the parents of the murdered Jewish and Palestinian teenagers who crossed divides – physical and emotional and personal – to comfort each other in their grief. And as rockets were fired and missiles were launched said, “Things will only get better when we learn to cope with each other’s pain and stop getting angry at each other.”
I am humbled by such courage and witness.
- And, this past week, 250 or so people gathered at Manhattanville College – Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Other – to remember the teenagers who had been murdered and to pray for them and their families.
And, to pray, too, for all who have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
And, to pray for peace.
We read from the Torah and the Qu’ran.
We prayed in Hebrew and Arabic and English.
Tears were in my eye on a number of occasions.
But none more so than when the Jewish Cantor sang the Mourners Kaddish for all who have died both Jewish and Palestinian, and then when a young woman stood up to read from the Qu’ran and introduced herself as a Jerusalem born Palestinian Muslim grateful and awed to be a part of the gathering that evening.
Purchase is a long way from Palestine.
But if we can’t figure it out here there is even less hope of figuring it out there.
Which brings me to today.
And to you and me here in this place.
So far removed from the chaos and desperation and destruction out there.
As People of Faith…
At our best as human beings…
We are called to be far more than just bystanders to what is happening.
More than just taking this side or that side.
We are called to be reminders that…
- There is no such thing as collateral damage.
- That hatred and vengeance, in whatever form, turn us away from that which we know and name as God.
- That we are, ourselves, to be signs of hope and agents of peace in whatever ways we are able so that one day we all might be known as the children of God.
As I slogged my way through this past month and thought about our being here this morning, what better reminder, I realized, than for us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. May this table be a holy, hope filled reminder of the ultimate intention of God of that day yet to be when…
There will not be your table and my table.
There will not be a Christian table and a Jewish table and Muslim table.
There will not be a gay table and a straight table.
There will not be a Republican table and a Democrat table.
There will only be God’s table.
And all will have a place.
And all will have enough.
And if you and I forget that or give up on that dream we might as well turn off the lights and lock the doors and all just walk away.
So, this morning
Allow our gathering at the table to be hope.
Our practicing for tomorrow and that day yet to be.
May that be our invitation and this be our prayer.
Shared with me by Rabbi Jason Nevarez as we talked together about what was happening in Israel and in Gaza, and about our friendship and about the commitment of our congregations to continue to work together even in…especially in…these trying and difficult times.
This prayer was written by two women.
One Jewish and one Palestinian.
God of Life:
You who heals the brokenhearted, binding up our wounds.
Please hear this prayer of mothers.
You did not create us to kill each other
Nor to live in fear or rage or hatred in your world.
You created us so that we allow each other to sustain Your Name in this world.
Your name is Life.
Your name is Peace.
For these I weep, my eye sheds water:
For our children crying in the night;
For parents holding infants, despair and darkness in their hearts.
For a gate that is closing – who will rise to open it before the day is gone?
With my tears and with my constant prayers,
With the tears of all women deeply pained by these harsh times
I raise my hand in supplication:
Please God have mercy on us.
Hear our voice that we not despair
That we will witness life with each other,
That we have mercy one for the other,
That we share sorrow one with the other,
That we hope, together, one for another.
Inscribe our lives in the book of Life.
For Your sake, our God of Life, let us choose Life.
For you are Peace.
Your world is Peace and all that is Yours is Peace.
May this be your will.
And let us say Amen.
(Written by Sheikha Mahameed and Rabba Tamar Elad-Appelbaum. English translation – Amichai Lau-Lavie)