Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods. A liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement seeking to overthrow the forces that destroy the promise, the hope, the vision. – Abraham Joshua Heschel
A Word of Hope
Today is Yom Kippur–the day of atonement in Jewish communities, observed with rituals of fasting, repenting, and seeking forgiveness.
Actually, the whole month of Elul is a season of reflection in which people take stock of their lives, looking back at where they have been over the past year. According to New York City’s Central Synagogue website, “While Elul is a time for individual work, Rosh HaShanah reminds us that we must also take stock as a community and commit ourselves to acts of tzedakah (justice) and tikkun olam (repairing the world). When Yom Kippur comes around 10 days later, each of us is obligated to have asked for forgiveness from those whom we have harmed so that we may do the real work of teshuva (repentance)—figuring out how we are going to engage in deep change, both with ourselves and with our community.”
Teshuva is essentially a turning around—a “returning to God with all our hearts” as Marty Haugen writes in an oft-sung Lenten song. All of these attitudes and practices—acts of justice, repairing the world, confession, repentance, forgiveness—are important for any person making the turn and seeking a deeper relationship with God.
While many offer our personal shortcomings up to God, communal prayers of confession and repentance can be powerful, as the liturgical acknowledgment of our Episcopal friends: “Most merciful God, we confess that we havesinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry andwe humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ.”
Rabbi Michael Lerner and the Tikkun community offer a progressive and full litany of communal sins and encourage participation by anyone who would have a clean heart and right spirit. https://www.tikkun.org/for-the-sins-a-contemporary-version-of-atonement-on-yom-kippur-and-all-year-round/
Consider participating in Yom Kippur services on line at a local synagogue or at Central Synagogue, speaking together the way we miss the mark, being inspired by a thoughtful sermon, and moved by the kol nidre (here sung when Rabbi Angela Buchwald was cantor) www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C-8f_SoNqg.
O God, Because I have “promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep,” help me to return to you. Amen
Dr. Pat Saxon