What a gift this last Sunday was! It felt wonderful to sit out in the shade together with the mountains rising to the west, the grass soft beneath us and the birds singing around us to worship, to sing, to learn more about Judaism and to praise the God of all things! Thank you to everyone who made that possible in particular the Levys, Nikki and Paul! And, it sure was fun for some of our younger folks to jump in the pool after service. I know my daughter LOVED it! It didn't hurt that she had the full attention and care of two amazing young men -- Colton and Lucas.
Sometimes it can feel like "Why church?" We know that God is all around us and let's be honest, sometimes God is easier to find in the majesty of the mountains than the confinement of a building. But we were made for community, and we need its gifts -- the gifts of other people's experience, stories and wisdom; the gifts of other people holding our babies or teaching our children, the gifts of hospitality and generosity.
We are made for community, and I believe completely that salvation, forgiveness, redemption and grace are less about individual saving than they are about community. After all, we talk of "God's kingdom (or kingdom)" and the "beloved community." Jesus' life exemplifies what it looks like to love in ever wider circles -- not simply to love one's family well, but to expand what we mean by family to include all of God's beloved children.
As Dave offered us on Sunday, the Hebrew words for "charity," "righteousness" and "justice" are all very closely related (almost the same word with very slight variations). Thus we cannot practice charity or righteousness without seeking justice, which is by nature about community. I loved the story of the offering room where people would go into a room and either put in their financial gifts or take out money according to their need, without anyone knowing who put in and who took out. What a way to care for one another!
So, "why church?" Because I cannot do this on my own. Because when we are together, I see and feel and learn about what it means to follow Christ and to live in love. Because in community my ego can never get too big -- there are always people with gifts I do not have, with wisdom I can only hope to some day gain, with experiences different from my own. Because in community I can also see and feel the greater-than-me which is the holy and which is also the world to which the holy invites us.
Thanks for being community, for being church with me. I hope to see you on Sunday morning either in person or on Zoom.
With so much love,