If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Last year, I was able to represent JCPC as a neighbor and attend the Rosh Hashanah Friday evening service at Congregation Dor Tamid. They recognized and welcomed me, the firefighters, and police officers, and the Holocaust survivor in attendance. For many in attendance, they had been at a Rosh Hashanah service every single year of their life. It was my first. I felt compelled to go. I was newly a member of our fledgling Interfaith Clergy group that we formed after the synagogue shooting in Mr. Roger's neighborhood in Pennsylvania. My Lord and Savior was Jewish. I'd grown up curious about and connected to that tradition. But in the days following the shooting, it felt like there was an obvious kinship between us.
This year, because of our group and the friendships formed, the Rabbi, our friend Jordan, reached out to us about borrowing our sound equipment for their annual high holy day. Then it occurred to us that they could just come and use it and our space here at JCPC. What an honor to host them in return. During the service, I listened to familiar words and prayers, danced to the songs and music, and took pictures for them. In one moment, a cool breeze was blowing and I snapped a picture of our flag. It occurred to me in seeing the photo later that I was able to take that picture at our Presbyterian Church, during a Jewish service, and that the cross of the steeple from our friends at the Methodist church was visible too. That flag, for me, in that moment represented a real hope and my own gratitude that our two faiths and many denominations can worship near one another and not just not fight, but belong to the same groups of friendship and peace that made that service possible. I was exhilarated and deeply thankful.
I know and believe our country has a long way to go in working toward peace, love, and reconciliation, a departure from violence as polarization. But standing there in that moment, I felt that if our group of clergy can make that moment possible for our people through our friendships, then one day, our intentionality, our hard work, and God's Spirit among us can build even great bridges and we can have more moments of kinship, compassion, and love. I hope you are inspired too. And I pray you'll join us in building those relationships, setting aside differences, finding common ground, and refusing to quickly react or attack people we are called to love and live with peaceably.