Sunday, October 1, 2017

L'shana Tovah 5778


The High Holy Days Band and me....

As the Jewish High Holy "Days of Awe" come to an end, I want to share with you thoughts from the  sermonI preached for my friend Rabbi  Steve Blane's "Sim Shalom"  Rosh Ha Shana service at the Bitter End, the famous Greenwich Village night club. For me there's an irony in having my first real gig at the Bitter End as a preacher, not as a singer-songwriter.

Rabbi Blane has his jazz group with bass and piano and drums backing him this year augmented by a friend who's played with me many times, Lizzie Taub.

So after the Torah reading, Rabbi Steve called me up
Robert Brashear and Rabbi Steve Blane
and this is what I had to say: I have to ask....Rabbi,  this is the first day of the Jewish New Year, right? So what month is it? Tishri? And he replies that it is the ninth month.  What? I ask. How's that?

Well, I've done some reading and I discovered that the commentators record how the Jewish faith community faced a difficult decision. Would it be a holiday in the first month, Nisan, which celebrates their liberation? Or this day from the  ninth month, celebrating creation?  And so the community chose creation, a universal symbol, instead of a tribal celebration. And I am convinced that it is that choice that has enabled the Jewish religion to be a true "light to the nations."

The world needs a birthday...and this day is as good as any. It's an opportunity for a fresh start....and how we need a fresh start. Since last year, 5777, I wish we could have a whole do over, but that's not going to happen so a fresh start, a new beginning, will have to do. Never turn down an opportunity for a fresh start. 

So these days are days when you seek to become "one" with God again. And there are rituals related to forgiveness. It's good to remember that we don't ask God for forgiveness for something done to another person. We have to begin with that person. Likewise, we can never offer forgiveness for something not done to us. And ultimately the forgiveness we offer, the letting go, sets us free. It frees us from defining ourselves by our suffering inflicted by others. 

Reconciliation on the other hand is something different. It's a process. It takes two. And takes work. So I have two challenges for you during this season...first, think of one relationship that is damaged or even broken.,think of just one thing you could do to take the first step back to relationship and do it. Just one step. It's one step back towards wholeness. 

Now the other is this. I recently heard a Lutheran pastor say  that the one person who is the most difficult to forgive is ourselves. I knew that's true. So in these days of seeking and offering forgiveness, start by forgiving yourself. That would truly be a new beginning. That's what being inscribed in the book of life feels like. 

I love the symbols of the season....the round challot, for the ever flowing cycles of life. The apples and honey for a sweet year. 

It's the first day of Tishri, it's Rosh Ha Shana. Take the new beginning.  Enjoy the sweetness of living. L'Shana Tovah.

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