Sunday, December 9, 2012

"We Have Come This Far, Always Believing,"

We have friends whose house backs up to a shopping center that has a Jewish day care center.  It's actually more than that, as they are often meeting late into the night.  They may be a splinter group--it's hard for me to tell.  Their bus seems to say that they worship a Messiah who has already come, but isn't Jesus Christ.  In some ways, it's not important.  What intrigues me is that my friends have this Jewish whole life center to their back and Orthodox Jewish neighbors across the street. 

When we moved to South Florida, I expected to be enriched by Caribbean and Latin American cultures.  In my ignorance, I wasn't aware of the huge Jewish population living here, which has been an ecumenical enrichment too.

Last night we sat outside on the back patio enjoying our friends' new outdoor fireplace structure.  Suddenly, a pop of fireworks!  We looked at each other with quizzical looks.  I said, "It's the first night of Hanukkah!"

Indeed it was.  Until recently, I didn't know as much about this holiday.  I'm much more familiar with Passover, for example.  But I've grown to love the story of the Maccabees, the resistance to the secular king, the cleansing of the temple, the oil that burns long after it should have run out.

I spent this morning listening to this episode of On Being's exploration of Rabbi Heschel.  It's not exactly rooted in Hanukkah, but it does talk about our responsibility to work for social justice.  I love the idea of a God who needs us to make the world better.  I love the idea of a God who can't do it alone.

Some people might protest this idea of a God who is not all powerful.  If God wants a better world, surely God could create that with just a whisper.  Perhaps--but all evidence suggests that God doesn't have that approach.

That pondering led me to remember my favorite Hanukkah song, "Light One Candle," by Peter, Paul, and Mary.  You can see them perform that song as part of their 1988 holiday special here.  It moved me to tears.  It always does.

I love how the song ends:  "We have come this far, always believing, that justice will somehow prevail."  Some days/months/years, that belief is easier than others.

I love this Hanukkah poem by Rachel Barenblat.  I love her concept of restoring the temple and its implications for modern life.

Today is the second Sunday in Advent.  We'll light two candles at church this morning.

Tonight, as I light two candles on my home wreath, I'll think of my Jewish friends who will also be lighting two candles.  Maybe I'll play that Peter, Paul, and Mary CD of their 1988 concert all the way through.  It's a great offering in an ecumenical holiday tradition.

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

I hadn't thought about the overlap between our two candles and your two candles tonight. Wonderful.

(I'd never thought about Hanukkah fireworks, but -- why not, I suppose!)

And thanks for linking to the poem -- I'm so glad it speaks to you.