Dear Members and Friends,
This is a year of transition and change for you. I have no doubt your faith community will experience continued growth and healing. I’m here to accompany you during the good times and the challenging times.
This past weekend, Nate Pawelek shared his resignation with me. He shared the news with the youth group, and his advisory team lit a candle in worship. Many of you expressed how dearly he will be missed. He is one of the most open, honest people I’ve encountered, and so I share your sadness about his upcoming departure. I’m glad that he will provide the Story for All Ages the next two Sundays.
I currently am assembling a team to hire Nate’s replacement. If all goes well, an Acting Faith Formation Lead will be in place in three weeks. A Search Team for the permanent position will be created to engage youth, parents, and the wider congregation about your collective ministry to children and youth.
Today marks the fifth day of the Jewish High Holidays. “Shana Tovah!” In Hebrew this means: “may you have a good and sweet year.” This is what our Jewish sisters and brothers say during these days that culminate with Yom Kippur and are also known as “The Ten Days of Teshuvah.” “Teshuvah” is the core practice of the Jewish faithful, often translated as repentance but it is more of a returning, a turning back from where one has strayed.
There’s much to learn from this Jewish practice of preparing one’s heart for atonement (cleansing) and seeking repairs and making amends where one has contributed to a breach in a relationship. Whether one is Jewish or not, the practice of forgiving—both others and ourselves—turns us toward wholeness. Practicing teshuvah invites spiritual healing.
Below is a video that my children and I created three years ago—they look like they are five years younger than they look now! This is an enactment of the story I shared this past Sunday. Parents, I hope you will share it with your children!
In addition, here are some readings from the Jewish tradition.
Rev. Alan Taylor
You are not responsible for completing the task [of repairing the world],
but you must not desist from doing everything you can.
–Rabbi Tarpon, early second century
Now is the time for turning.
The leaves are beginning to turn
from green to red and orange.
The birds are beginning to turn
to storing their food for the winter.
For leaves, birds, and animals
turning comes instinctively.
But for us turning does not come so easily.
It takes an act of will for us to make a turn.
It means breaking with old habits.
It means admitting that we have been wrong;
and this is never easy.
It means losing face;
it means starting all over again;
and this is always painful.
It means saying: I am sorry.
It means recognizing that we have the ability to change.
These things are hard to do.
But unless we turn,
we will be trapped forever in yesterday’s ways.
God, help us to turn, from callousness to sensitivity,
from hostility to love, from pettiness to purpose,
from envy to contentment, from carelessness to discipline,
from fear to faith.
Turn us around O God, and bring us back toward You.
Revive our lives, as at the beginning, and turn us toward each other,
for in isolation there is no life.
–Rabbi Jack Reimer
Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing. –from No Future Without Forgiveness by Bishop Desmond Tutu