Community of Faith: Leading to More Understanding and Love |
On Sunday, June 5, we find a unique convergence of Shavuot from Judaism and Pentecost from Christianity. Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, marks the completion of the 49-day count from Passover, the spring agricultural festival marking the freedom of the ancient Israelites from slavery, and, Shavuot, the celebration of God’s revelation of the Ten Commandments and Torah at Mount Sinai, thus founding the Jewish people.
Pentecost celebrates the 50th day from Easter marking the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, hence the birth of the Church.
These two holy days have distinct historical messages that are important to their respective religious traditions. Both commemorations are meaningful calls to deeper faith, to right relationship, and to opening our being to new perspectives and ways to act in ways that improve our world, leading each person and each community to find the fulfillment, meaning and purpose.
My colleague and friend, Jennifer Yocum, senior pastor at UCC Missoula, and I shared stories, messages, and ideas about Shavuot and Pentecost. Communicating with care and curiosity, we felt the blessings of each tradition as unique framings of theological messages bringing humanity, (us!), an improvement on the path of life. It’s not about right or wrong; it is about doing and knowing kindness, love, hope and peace shalom.
My daily prayers contain the ardent expression that we can listen with compassion to the voice of the other, have a genuine curiosity for those who are different from us, joyfully appreciate the uniqueness and diversity of our human family, graciously show attention to those who need help, openly loving our neighbor and finding together ways to limit the injustices and evils of our community, our nation and the world.
One of my favorite Shavuot midrashes, the Jewish parable, describes the interaction between God and mankind when the Torah was offered. God went to many nations and offered the Torah. In turn, they asked: what does it say or what is in it for them? The Jewish people responded with the words, Na’aseh v’nishma, we will do Torah and learn more for our understanding. This is a great lesson for implementing our values of truth, compassion, sharing and love. Let’s put these values into play and then discover the foundations and the meaning.
This is perhaps the opportunistic message of the convergence of these sacred times and messages. Please let us do more to bring justice, safety, respect, fairness and kindness leading to more understanding and love.
Rabbi Mark Kula resides in Missoula and provides Jewish experiences throughout Montana, the Rabbi of the UCC Missoula Pastoral Team, the Rabbinical Counselor for Zootown Jews, a Missoula Fellowship Welcoming All, and the Campus Rabbi of the University of Montana. Marc looks forward to meeting you. [email protected]