A Message from Ellen 10-25-23
October 25, 2023
October 25, 2023
My heart breaks as I watch the news or read about the human explosion and tragic war in Israel and Palestine. I was heartened that so many of you made the effort to attend the vigil at the Jewish Community Center when we sent out an invitation to our congregation. And I know that you did that to show support to our Jewish neighbors and friends. But as the body count mounts and the sides begin to be entrenched, it is difficult to know what we can DO, beyond obsessing over the news (which is not good). It is easy to be outraged and frustrated, but it takes intentionality to be constructive and creative. So, I have some suggestions.
First, please read the letter, included inside this newsletter, from a Rabbi to his Muslim Imam friend. Both congregations are in Northern Virginia, and the letter was printed in The Presbyterian Outlook (10/19/23). Maybe consider sending a note to both Masjid As Salaam and to Beth Shalom (or one of the other Synagogues close to us) to tell them that they are not alone and that we are praying for them and for peace. Both Jews and Muslims in this country are currently afraid of hate crimes. Christians can advocate for and live out acts of love.
Second, please consider listening to the interfaith podcast, Abraham’s Table, that Rabbi Jonathan Case, Imam Omar Shaheed, and I have been producing for almost two years now. You can find the link on our website [on the News and Events page] or anywhere you normally find podcasts. This podcast gives you a low-threshold way to learn more about Jewish and Muslim practices and so increase your comprehension of what both faiths actually teach.
Third, plan to attend the Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service that will be held this year on Sunday, November 19th at 4pm at Bethel United Methodist Church. Rabbi Daniel Uriarte will be preaching. Your presence is important.
Fourth, lean into our Decker Collective: Bridging the Boulevard work. The way violence grows is when we do not know our neighbors. Do you know your neighbors? Do you know many people who live in the neighborhoods that lie north of Decker Boulevard? If not, are you willing to invest a little time and effort to get to know someone outside of your normal bubble? I went to support the football Tailgate party that our Decker Collective had planned last Friday night. The actual tailgate party was cancelled because of lightning, but I got to talk for a long time with the RNE Junior Class Vice President, whose parents immigrated from India, as she reflected on what it is like to be an Indian American in our country. Fascinating. She was impressive! We don’t know our neighbors – especially our immigrant, poor, at-risk neighbors – unless we make the effort.
Don’t let watching the news be the main thing you do to engage in world events. We must show up for those who need encouragement. We must engage those who are different from us in conversation – mostly listening! We must cheer for and show up for children who don’t have anyone else to show up for them. It is much more difficult than watching cable news, but it is constructive, redemptive, and creates community. If that is not an expression of the good news of the Gospel, I don’t know what is!
See you in worship!