Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Hope of the OK Sign

What do we owe each other?
This is the question I have been pondering this week.
What is it that binds us together, that holds us together?
This life that we live can be heartless, and difficult.
Sometimes we have a hard enough time living our own lives how can we possibly worry about someone else's life?
Some days it is hard enough to simply get through a day.
We work hard for what we have.
What do I owe anyone else?

According to Jesus and the scribe we owe each other love.
We owe each other exactly what we would give to ourselves.

I want to share this picture with you.
This is a picture of my Dad.
He died when he was 58, about 12 years ago.
I love this picture of him.
If you didn't know him this picture sums him up as person.
First of all he is eating.
He loved to eat and drink.
He loved a good time.
This picture is taken at Camp Calumet which was his favorite place on earth.
Finally, it shows him giving the "OK" sign.
He was an optimist.
He was quick to give you a compliment, say he was proud of you, or liked something you did.
He was not a rich man, not a famous person, not a great thinker.
He had his flaws.
He sometimes let his demons get the best of him.
He was also quick to acknowledge when he was wrong, and ask for forgiveness.
When I think of him I think of a man that loved his family, was a faithful church person, had lots of friends, and gave back to those around him.
When I think of what it means to be a good man, I think about him.

I am sure you have your own people.
They are on the list that we read this morning.
People who taught you what is important in this life.
They taught you that your life is never simply about you, it is about those around you.
It is about how you show that you love them, and give to them?

Buried in the two great commandments is exactly this thought.
We are not our own.
First, all that we are belongs to God.
All of our thoughts, our passions, our good and bad.
All of those things are in service to God.
As a person of faith God resides in our lives.
This life is meant to be lived not for my glory but for God's glory.
And second it isn't about me, but about how I give that love to my neighbor.
It is about how do I share it with those around me?

Friday, I went to Temple Beth Jacob for Shabbat.
They invited people in the community that wanted to show love after the shooting last week in synagogue Pittsburgh.
The synagogue was packed.
They ran out of chairs, and had to go get some from downstairs.
It shows that we are indeed responsible for one another.
We do belong to each other.

I didn't live in any other time than this.
I can't say if this time is worse or better.
All I can say to you this morning is that I need moments like the one I experienced at the synagogue on Friday night.
I need to know that we are not alone.
That people think about more than themselves.
I need that to give me hope.
I need it with all of my heart, body, and soul.
Because without it I think I would break.

This is why we remember our dead.
This is why we read the names.
Because it helps remind us that this isn't all there is.
That there awaits for all of us something more glorious.
It reminds us of the hope that we as people of faith share.

Rabbi Robin said something at our Greater Concord Interfaith Council meeting.
She had been interviewed for an article in the paper.
The reporter asked her, "Why do you think anti-Antisemitism is on the rise".
She told the reporter that she wasn't going to answer that question.
Because Jews live by hope.
And it is time to look forward and not backward.
When we as Christians think of the cloud of witnesses we should think of them giving us hope.
Telling us not to live for ourselves, but for our neighbors.
Telling us to not let death have the last word.
Telling us that God loves us through eternity.
Giving us the Ok sign.

When I look at this picture I would like to think that my dad is giving me this sign from heaven every day.
Encouraging me to move forward, to live today in gratitude towards God.
That is what the saints that have gone before can do for us.
Encourage us to remember that tomorrow is still filled with endless possibilities yet to be discovered.

The mourners Kaddish says, "Exalted and hallowed be God's great name in the world which God created, according to plan.
May God's majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime and the life of all Israel--Speedily, imminently, to which we say Amen.
Blessed be God's great name to all eternity.
Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing, praise, and comfort. To which we say Amen
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel, to which we say Amen.
May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace to us and to all Israel, to which we say Amen."

This is not a prayer of our faith tradition, but it speaks to the same things that we would pray today.
May the peace that God creates in heavens be here on earth.
May we know that peace.
May we have hope in that peace.
As people of faith maybe this is what we owe our neighbor and the world.
A sense in the hope that we all know in Jesus Christ.
It is a hope that comforts us when those that we love die.
It is a hope that gives us courage in the midst of a violent and hateful world.
It is a hope that reminds us that we are not alone, and that we belong to one another.
It is a hope that reminds us that God cares about us, and walks with us in the most difficult of times.
It is a hope that indeed we will someday love our neighbors as ourselves.

It is that hope that I cling to today.
It is that hope that I think about when I see this picture of my dad.
It is the hope of all the saints that have gone before us.
It is that hope that I look forward and not back, knowing that just ahead of me, just out of my reach,  is the kingdom of God.
May you have that same hope today, and always.