#ShowUpForShabbat

As the Christian sabbath draws near, I’m reflecting on the experience of worshiping with my Jewish neighbors today, in response to the invitation for people of all faiths to #ShowUpForShabbat.

In my neighborhood temple, the congregation touched me with the same spirit of resistance that I often find in African-American churches.  People who have been threatened and oppressed, and yet are still worshiping.  Defiant, determined joy wins, sharpened and not broken by the violence of centuries past.  No matter what lurks outside the door, inside there is resolute strength.  Also, lots of bagels.  Every event on the calendar promises bagels for all who attend.  Perhaps this is the secret of a successful congregation!

Listening to the service, I try to imagine the shattering experience of violence at the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh last weekend.  The police officer at the door of this temple, this morning, seemed to be a regular.  People entering for worship stopped and greeted him by name.  In the back of the parking lot, a sheriff’s deputy and a state police officer waited in their cars, comparing notes.  What would it be like to have that reminder of violence every time you go to a place where you hope to settle your spirit, and listen for God in the quiet?

This kind of worship requires a fortitude that fortunate Christian congregations can’t imagine.

Tomorrow at my church, we will read the names of the people who died in the past year, and the others whom we hold in our memories.  It’s our remembrance of the beloved dead who circle around us.  In the Shabbat service, the dead are present all the time.  They are never far away, in a way that I imagine adds to the congregation’s strength.  I feel touched by their presence, even without knowing the people behind the names.

As the Jewish sabbath ends, and the Christian sabbath comes, today makes me hope more than ever that peace may spread over all people.

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