Saturday, May 23, 2009

It was a beautiful thing

I gotta tell ya. I went to a Jewish Temple last night for a Sabbath Celebration...
It was amazing!

OK, I suppose it would be a good idea for me to start with some background info, now.

Last Friday night I was out doing some shopping and running around. As I was on my way home God told me not to go straight home. Instead, He suggested that I stop at Baskin Robbins for a double-scoop, Rocky Road in a waffle cone. But I argued with Him over this since I already had chocolate ice cream at home and I could just make a milkshake when I got there. But He was insistent that I get the double scoop, Rocky Road in a waffle cone, and also that I should sit outside on one of the nearby benches and enjoy the cone along with the beautiful weather He had arranged for me.
So I stopped arguing and did as I was asked. I got my double scoop, Rocky Road in a waffle cone and then found a nearby bench to enjoy the incredible weather we had. Then, as I was finishing my cone, an elderly lady walked up to the bench and asked if I minded if she sat down with me since her feet were hurting from the walk. Of course, I said I didn't mind. And that's when we began to talk.
Actually, it was more like, that's when she began to talk. My mouth was full of Rocky Road ice cream and waffle cone, so it would've been impolite for me to start talking.
Anyways, she introduced herself to me and began to tell me her life's story. Her name is Vivian. She's a 67 year old divorced, semi-retired nurse who had been taking care of her father unitl he passed away. We talked for almost three hours about a great many topics, one of which being faith and religion. She pulled out a necklace to show me a Star of David and said "See, I'm a Jewess." To which I pulled out my necklace (you can see it here and said "Oh, cool! See, I'm a completed Jew." to which she laughed histerically and said "Oh, I love it!" It was shortly after this that she invited me to go to Temple with her. In part because she has no car and can't walk there. But also because she doesn't want to have to go by herself. So I agreed.
There's more to the whole story, but I'm not sharing that right now. I'm waiting to see what other plans or purposes God might have in store before I say anything else.

So Friday comes and it's time to go to Temple. I pick Vivian up and we go.
The Temple was a beautiful place. Very modest exterior, but the inside had some wonderful artwork. It was pretty much what I expected. Not dissimilar to any of the churches I've been to. But it was the service that I was most impressed by.
Most of the service was in Hebrew - which I have almost zero knowledge of - but there were English translations to go with all of the Hebrew songs and prayers. I even brought home a handout with some of the songs and prayers on it, which I am going to share with you later.
The sermon was about the journey we're all on. The Rabbi spoke of Judaism as a journey. And she reminded us that with this being Memorial Day weekend, many of us would be taking our own journeys. And she wanted us to think of all of the signs we might see on our journeys and think about how those signs might apply to our life's journey. It was cool to see everyone interacting, and it felt very familiar to me since that's how my church operates (the whole interacting-as-part-of-the-sermon thing).
They concluded the service with observances for the dead. Which I thought was amazing since there are several Meditations one could choose from, and each one had a unique focus or background. I hope to explore those more fully some other time.
After the final prayers, they closed with the National Anthem. Which I thought was interesting. I know some churches that would never do that...
Of course, there was a time of fellowship following the service. Vivian introduced me to a few of the people there. And she had told the Rabbi I was coming, and that I was a Christian, and so Vivian made sure to introduce me to her. When the Rabbi, whose name escapes me, saw my necklace she asked what it meant. So I explained that it means I have been grafted in - as Paul explains of non-Jewish believers in the New Testament (Romans 11:17-21). To which she nodded and said, "Very nice."
Oh, by the way, the cookies they had during the fellowship were absolutely delicious.
OK, that about covers it. Again, there's more to the whole story, but I'm waiting to see where God is leading me in this.
And now for the songs and prayers I mentioned earlier. These really touched me, and so, I will share them with all of you. I hope you are touched by them as well. I only wish I had a Hebrew font available so I could let you see that as well.

Shir Chadash
Shi-ru la-do-nai, kol ha-a-retz
Shi-ru la-do-nai, shir cha-dash

Sing unto God, all the earth, a new song
I will sing unto God a new song
Sing unto God and we'll sing along
All the earth, a new song unto God.

Prayer for Healing
Mi shebei-rakh Avoteinu mekor ha-berakhah le-imoteinu

May the Source of strength who blessed the ones before us help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing and let us say, "Amen."

Mi shebei-rakh imoteinu mekor habrakhah la-avoteinu

Bless those in need of healing with refuah shelei-mah, the renewal of body, the renewal of body, the renewal of spirit, and let us say, "Amen."

Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu
Od yavo shalom aleinu v'al kulam.
Salaam, aleinu v'al kol haolam,
Salaam, salaam.

Peace will surely come to us, to everyone.
Salaam, for us and for the entire world.

I expect that I'll be going again sometime soon. Perhaps on a somewhat regular basis. I found it to be a very enriching experience, and would like to see what else God will do through this.

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Blogger One Wink at a Time said...

How interesting AND serendipitous.
Love when stuff like that happens.
Also was amused at your last sentence in the first paragraph. I know you're amazing, but I'm glad you noticed it too ;-)

11:23 AM  
Blogger M+ said...

While I appreciate the compliment, and I do know that I am amazing at times, I see now that I made an error. It was supposed to read "It was amazing!". And I'm sure you knew that, but couldn't resist the opportunity to offer that kindness to me. Thanks.

2:27 PM  

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