As I write this message, Rosh Hashanah has come and gone. This day is the Jewish version of our “New Year’s Day – a holy day that comes with bowls of black-eyed peas, leeks and dates; with apples dipped in honey and with songs of thanksgiving for the harvest. For two days, celebrants remember why human beings were put on this earth – “to be fruitful, to steward the earth and care for every living thing.” and their celebration is delicious and round – like the challah bread that symbolizes the cycle of the year.
Since it begins with the blowing of the shofar or Ram’s horn, we paid homage to this holiday last Sunday when we had “the feast of trumpets”. Doug and Anthony played, “Be Thou My Vision” and what a great prayer to hear at the beginning of a new year – “God, be thou our vision!”
Rosh Hashanah celebrations last for 2 days and they begin the 10 days of Awe which end with Yom Kippur – or the Day of Atonement. The best way to understand these Jewish Holy Days is that they are seen both by the people and Yahweh as “appointments with God”. Both God and humanity put away all the distractions of life so as to assure that the rich, lively conversation of a people with their Holy of Holies resists becoming thin, worn or insincere.
These 10 days of awe are like an extended “retreat” during which time serious, honest and humble conversations happen with God about what we have done we ought not to have done AND what we have not done that we ought to have done. Jews repent of all of their sins on Yom Kippur and the year begins with a fresh, intimate, renewed joy for the partnership between the creator and the creatures.
Such is the joy of our own hearts as we move into the Fall – the head of our program year, here at FCC. Our joyful ovations began when we celebrated the “good stewarding” Sammie gave to her sunflower seed that grew a plant which she proclaimed was “5 times bigger than me”. Joy and excitement are rising over whether we can muster a team and fundraise in 2019 so as to exceed our totals raised last year for the CROP walk in both numbers of team members and money raised.
We will all become kids again after the Men’s Worship Week as we stand in line for our steamed hot dogs, eating just one more as the “peak season” for hot dog sales comes to an end. Maybe not as exotic as dates and apples dipped in honey – but definitely a food that belongs in the childhood food “try this once” category and a food that unites across generations!
Finally, we will be making a worship video and sharing it with our Zimbabwean sisters and brothers in Fern Valley and they will be doing the same for us on UKAMA Sunday. Our hope is that as the Jewish diaspora unites in their New Year’s celebration across continents, we, too, can feel the joy that comes when Christian souls on two continents are held together by the same love in Christ.
In these few ways, thinking about Rosh Hashana and the Days of Awe, I can honestly say that almost any day I come to church can feel like a “day of awe” as I see you honoring your souls by “keeping your appointments” with God. Such practicing of God’s presence keeps our love strong our opportunities to serve many and varied and all our days feeling holy. Love, Rev. Deb
Lectionary Readings and Sermons for October
October 6 – World-wide Communion Sunday/New Member Class
Scripture Reading: John 6:1-15 -” The Gifts of our Children”
October 13 – Men’s Worship Week – Special All-Men’s Choir
“The Healing of the Lepers”
October 20 – Baptism/Seacoast Crop Walk/Cross Roads Meal
Jer 31:27-34 & Luke 18:1-18 “Do Not Lose Heart”
October 27 Halloween Party
Sirach 35:12-17 & Psalm 65:1-8 “Just Worship”
FALL BIBLE STUDY OPTIONS
Monday Evenings (October 14-Nov. 11) – Short Stories by Jesus
Jewish Professor Amy-Jill Levine shares the first century Jewish perspective on Jesus’ parables, showing how the parables are not just about Jesus but are also about us. The Parables covered include: The Lost Sheep/Coin/Son; The Good Samaritan, The Pearl of Great Price, The Mustard See, The Laborers in the Vineyard and The Widow and the Judge. Join us even if you haven’t purchased the study book!
Wednesday Noontimes (October 16-October 30)
We are finishing “Twelve Ordinary Men” which tells the stories of Jesus’ twelve disciples and gives background to their vocations, their spiritual yearnings and the special gifts they brought to the community of believers. We have 3 weeks left before we begin to think about Advent. We’d love to have new faces at the table anytime.
PREVIEW: Adult Study Option for Wednesday noontimes
We will use another work of Amy-Jill Levine’s that prepares us for Christmas by inviting participants to look at the Christmas scripture readings through the eyes of Jesus’ first followers, as the Christian faith was taking shape. We will meet November 13 and 20 and then December 4, 11 and 18 to take us through the 4 weeks of Advent and Christmas Eve readings. Suggested price for the participant workbook is $9 donation.