Beginnings and Endings
The Christian Church has roots, its beginnings, in the Jewish faith. On the 30th of September, I had the privilege of joining the Tikkun Olam (defined as acts of kindness to repair the world) congregation here at St. Ann’s for one of their High Holy Day services, Rosh Hashanah, translated as the head of the year, or The Jewish New Year. The New Year was welcomed and celebrated and served as time set aside for reflecting upon the past year. No matter what one’s faith, or lack thereof, beginnings and endings are often bitter-sweet, and are a constant part of life.
During the service, the shofar, a hollowed ram’s horn, was blown. This action was prescribed in The Torah to “raise a noise,” as well as now attempting to awaken us from our slumber, to remember the ways in which we have gone astray, and to be alert that our judgement day is coming. One of the speakers likened the sound of the horn to a baby crying in need. Newborns aren’t the only needy. There isn’t one of us who could not use the help of a friend, and the saving redemption of Jesus, who died, ended his life, to save us all, that we might have a new beginning in eternal life.
This meditation is taken from the Rosh Hashanah Service; each person enters the service with a different need.
“Some hearts are full of gratitude and joy;
They are overflowing with the happiness of love and the joy of life;
They are eager to confront the day, to make the world more fair;
They are recovering from illness or have escaped misfortune,
And we rejoice with them.
“Some hearts ache with sorrow;
Disappointments weigh heavily upon them, and they have tasted despair; families have been broken;
loved ones lie on a bed of pain;
death has taken those whom they cherished.
May our presence and sympathy bring them comfort.
“Some hearts are embittered;
They have sought answers in vain;
have had their ideals mocked and betrayed;
life has lost its meaning and value.
May the knowledge that we too are searching, restore their hope that there is something to find.
“Some spirits hunger;
They long for friendship; they crave understanding;
they yearn for warmth.
May we in our common need gain strength from one another;
sharing our joys, lightening each other’s burdens, and praying for the welfare of our community.”
The combination of this meditation, a universal one which finds a place for us all, and an article from the July 21st New York Times which had a quotation by Martin Prechtel from his book, The Smell of Rain on Dust, inspired this Pondering. He wrote, “Grief is praise because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.” Grief is centered not in pain, but in love.
Yes, we’ve had goodness and joy. However, we’ve not just had an unusual amount of rainfall recently, but we’ve also had storms of violence, nature, and national dissent producing in many sadness and grief. Might we see this in a more positive way, that we’re honoring what we miss, and become more willing to make changes, to Begin again to make the world more fair. May we remember that not only rain on dust brings new life, but our End in Jesus and love do so abundantly.
To God be the Glory! Amen.