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Day of Atonement

Years ago when we moved back to Minnesota for a year, one of the things I missed was the reminder of the Jewish holidays. In the town we lived in school was not cancelled for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur (or for Columbus Day or for most anything else). I realized how those days off school on the East coast were gifts that connected me to my Jewish friends and tangentially to the Jewish faith. I would have learned to create my own reminders, but that year, as fall came in, I remember running to the calendar to see if the High Holy Days had already come and gone.

So here’s a reminder to all of us: today is Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement for the Jewish faith. It is a day of prayer and fasting. One of the prayers in today’s service confesses: “We have prayed for impossible things: peace without justice, forgiveness without restitution, love without sacrifice.” It is a different way of thinking of impossibility than we Christians who think of Jesus’ line: “With God nothing is impossible.” We are encouraged to pray for things that are impossible for humans but not for God. This Yom Kippur prayer reminds us that some things are even impossible for God because we pray wrongly – we pray for God to give things that are only partial and that require nothing from us. Yet again, Christians believe God does give freely, that God’s forgiveness is not dependent upon our actions. It comes first and its power is to move us to act in faith – to make restitution.

Just one line and we could go on for hours helping one another’s faith grow deeper. Larry Rasmussen shares this story about Elie Wiesel in his book, Earth-Honoring Faith. “Wiesel was invited to speak to Protestant pastors in Detroit. As he prepared to speak, he opened his Hebrew Bible, paused, looked up, and said, ‘Let me be clear about something. I’m not going to try and convert anyone here to Judaism, and I would appreciate it very much if you didn’t try to convert me to Christianity. What I am trying to do is to be the best Jew that I can be, so that you can be the best Christian that you can be. Let’ study together.’”

So, to our Jewish sisters and brothers: "G'mar Hatima Tova” (May you be sealed in the Book of Life), and "May you have an easy fast." We remember you today and pray that we each continue to grow in our relationship to God and one another.

- Pastor Dianne

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