November 14, 2023

From the Rector…

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all rooted in the same Abrahamic faith. That basically means we can all trace our religious faith back to Father Abraham of the Old Testament. Though we have since taken circuitous paths, coming in conflict with one another at times and coming alongside one another at other times, we are no less rooted in the same God. The primary expression of our worship of that God is love.

It sounds simple but one need only look at the geo-political scheme of the last twenty years to see how difficult it really is to love one another. At any given moment, these three faith communities—or, at least, representatives of them—have been at odds with one another and usually in violent ways. War in the Middle East, antisemitism, the burning of Mosques and Christian churches, the murder of Jews, and now an Israeli-Palestine war that we barely understand with high stakes for those involved and the world at large. The three Abrahamic faiths seem to be a far cry from love.

To look at the world from such a large lens can contribute to a hopelessness and despair that we will never learn to love much less get any of this God stuff right. We can’t do anything about the world’s problems so why even bother. That may be true if we think that the only way to affect change in the world is by doing something HUGE. But I think there is a different way to affect change. I think that all the small ways we show up in love make a big difference in the life of others. 

I can still remember when my dad made a special point to be at one of my t-ball games when I was in second or third grade. I had just hit the ball over the fence for a grand slam and as I looked in the stands rounding third base, there he was—beaming at me. It was one of his proudest moments and one of mine. The joy I felt in his pride for me was more than hitting that ball over the fence. I have never forgotten it and can even conjure up the memory on my bad days and feel my heart blossoming with his love. That memory has power and all because my dad took time away from his busy schedule and workday to show up in love.

We get an opportunity to show up in love this Sunday afternoon at 4pm at Temple Beth Or. Every year we celebrate an inter-faith Thanksgiving service with our Jewish and Methodist friends. This year seems more poignant than ever. There is a significant rise in antisemitism throughout the United States right now which contributes a certain amount of fear to the lives of our Jewish friends. Not to mention that they are already concerned with the safety of loved ones in Israel. Our friends at First Methodist have just been through a harrowing year that ended in a split of their congregation over theological beliefs regarding issues of sexuality. Long term members of Ascension can empathize with how painful that kind of experience can be for a church family.

Regardless of your beliefs or thoughts on what is happening in Israel and Gaza or even your beliefs about human sexuality—our inter-faith service is a time to demonstrate love and concern for one another as humans and as those who believe in the same God. We come together each year in worship not because we all believe the same things or agree on the same issues, but because we know how powerful it is to give thanks together. It is the way we change our community, even the world. Just imagine if no one was showing up to express thanks…for anything.

Come and give thanks as children of the God of Abraham and offer your presence as a sign of love to a broken and hurting world. It is such a simple action to just show up, but it has power and implication that we cannot even imagine.

Light and Life,