And rend your heart and not your garments " Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in mercy And relenting of evil.
"Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "
Return to Me," declares the LORD of hosts, "that I may return to you," says the LORD of hosts.
'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will
return to Me with their whole heart.
Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.
Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.
Rabbi Leizer survived the Holocaust and returned to his hometown of Czenstockchow, Poland after the war. For many years, he wandered the streets playing his hand organ. Mostly, he would play familiar secular tunes. But he would occasionally play the Kol Nidrei, a tune set to the words of a sort of liturgical rite or prayer in the service for Yom Kippur - the day of atonement. He would look for a glimmer of recognition in the eyes of the children who heard him play. And by this, brought many children back to their people. In worship, this familiar tune and the Aramaic words bring the people back, to recognize and return.
Our own weekly worship in the Christian church is filled with a specific order and familiar words that invite us back. The earliest followers of Christ, a devout Jew, steeped in tradition, were called Followers of the Way. Our way, like our Jewish brothers and sisters is marked by signposts lived by Christ, righteous living through forgiveness, kindness, grace, and humility. We are called to return to our people and to the Way each week in the ritual calling of worship.
I attended Yom Kippur services at Congregation Dor Tormid on Tuesday at the invitation of Rabbi Jordan, a friend from our interfaith clergy group. He recognized me and a few others at the start of worship, including a WWII veteran. He didn't recognize him by age, but by the words, "celebrating his 97th Yom Kippur." How wonderful would it be to mark our lives by our faith, our commitment, our returning on High Holy Days? This will be my 97th Christmas or Easter? I hope to say that one day. Even war could not keep our brother from returning again and again. What shall keep us from returning each high holy day? Each Sunday? Let us hear the call and keep returning to God and the people of God.