It was good to have David Vita, our Social Justice Director, stand in the pulpit last Sunday and tell us about himself – about the journey that brought him to us – and about his work.
To prepare for his presentation we reviewed the ancient Biblical story of David and Goliath, suggesting that there are giants that each of us has to face in life, and giants we need to face together: the giants of racism, poverty and social injustice, for example. Then David told us his story, how he faced the Goliath of the class bully when he was in the second grade, thus putting an end to the boy’s bullying; and he told us about the Goliath he faced when he read The Ugly American, a book that pointed to the dangers of arrogance and the misuse of power.
In a telling and touching moment he said that when he finished reading that book, he put it down and said to himself, “I want to be a good person.” I responded with Christopher Reeve’s favorite statement by Abraham Lincoln: “When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad. That’s my religion.”
David’s task, as I see it, is to help us find ways to do good, to support and encourage those who are making efforts, great and small, to help make the world a better place “for children and other living things,” as the 60’s poster said.
David and I attended a meeting at Temple Israel a couple of weeks ago in response to their thoughtful invitation to participate in their annual Mitzvah Day. In Judaism, a mitzvah is both a commandment and a good deed. My dear friend Rabbi Orkand suggested that it would be nice to have an interfaith Mitzvah Day, and I’m very enthused about it. It will take place on Sunday afternoon, April 9, at the temple.
You’ll hear more details, but suffice it to say that it will provide an opportunity to find some good things to do, some of which they’ve been doing for years, and some which we’ll introduce to them – like our work at the Beardsley School in Bridgeport.
At the close of Sunday’s service I invited people to join voices in the usual closing words: “Now say to thyself, ‘If there’s any good thing I can do, or any kindness I can show, to any person, let me do it now, let me not defer or neglect it, for I may not pass this way again.” I was impressed with the number of folks who were able to add their voice. I hope you’ll think about participating in Mitzvah Day next month.
Speaking of mitzvah, good work was done on our new Habitat house last week – the basic structural framing is up and soon we’ll move to the next stage of work. I hope you’ll be able to help with this interfaith effort as we work with the other churches and synagogues to bring this house to completion. “Love is the spirit of this church and service is its law.”
The spirit of love will be let loose at our Spring Fling on April 1. No joke. There may be opportunities to participate, and there certainly are good reasons to plan to attend.
We’re marking calendars with a lot of good things, from the Clarence Darrow evenings on March 17 and 19, Spring Fling on April 1 and Mitzvah Day on April 9. Let’s not forget Camp Jewell, our annual retreat, coming Mother’s Day weekend, May 12 – 14. Think ahead. I look forward to seeing you on Saturday night at 6 for family worship and Sunday morning. Take care.