Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.
Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead,
and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-9
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people,
but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
~ Leviticus 19:18
As Christians, we are very familiar with the great commandment: to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22, Mark 12, Luke 10). We are often less familiar with its origins: Judaism. Loving God with heart, soul and might and loving neighbor as self are Jewish teachings that would have been familiar to Jesus some 2,000 years ago just as they are familiar to Jewish people today.
This summer, we invite you to explore some of the Jewish roots of our Christian faith: to learn more about Jesus’s religion (after all he was Jewish, not Christian). We will move from learning some basics about Judaism, to delving more deeply into what it means to love God with all that we are and finally considering the call to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The summer worship is split into two halves. During the first half (June 13 to July 18), Diane and Dave Levy, a Jewish/Christian interfaith couple in our congregation, will teach us some of the Jewish prayers, practices and music that have been central to their family’s faith life. Dave will share his knowledge of Jewish religion, theology and practice with us. We seek not to appropriate Judaism but instead to deepen our understanding of our Christian roots, enrich our faith, and discover commonalities shared with our Jewish siblings.
The second half of summer worship will focus on the great commandment as found in Mark 12: loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. How do we love God with our whole selves? What does it look like to love ourselves? Who are our neighbors and how do we love them well?
As we experience changes “back” to pre-pandemic life, we invite you “back” to explore the Jewish roots of Christianity and to reflect on the foundational instruction to LOVE.