Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The End of the Session Brings Perspective. Invocation - CO House - 4/25/13

The End of the Session Brings Perspective
Invocation for the Colorado House of Representatives
April 25, 2013
Rabbi Joseph R. Black – Temple Emanuel, Denver, CO
Our God and God of all people:

As we come together on this morning of deliberation, we are aware of the limits of time.

Only a few more days remain in this year’s legislative session.  The calendar informs us of the fact that, no matter our desires, our plans, our vision – we are restricted by the realities of the rising of the sun and its setting; the passage of the seasons, and the laws set forth by our government.  At some point, no matter what is left unfinished, the fun must stop.  The session will end.   Lives that have been consumed by legislation can return to a manageable pace.  For a few months, we will be able to recharge our batteries,  put aside the bickering and the backstabbing, the testimony and the testiness.  Long nights of debate and negotiation will end and legislators will be able to return home and become re-acquainted with families and community. Life will return to normal.

These last few days of the session portend more than the end of a legislative process – they also mark the dissolution of a unique community of peers.  Despite all of the contentiousness that we have witnessed, every person who labors in this chamber is part of something much larger than any arguments that have taken place.  Every person here is a holy vessel.  We all possess a soul – placed within us by a benevolent Creator.   If we could only see the holiness within ourselves – and our colleagues, then the political and partisan polarization than has plagued this House can be put into perspective.  Those who have been elected to serve have also been part of the forming of a sacred community.  The same late night sessions that have infuriated some have also created opportunities for greater understanding and acceptance of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, passion and pride.
This has been a particularly difficult year.  We have had to confront tragedy - here in our own state and around the country.  If we learn nothing else from these events, let us remember how we put aside our difference in order to both honor the victims and pledge to build a better future.

May the awareness of our limits help us to accept our own humanity.  May enmity give way to enabling love – of one another; of our Great State of Colorado; and of Our Creator – who helps us to see that our limits also provide us with perspective. 

For the possibility of insight and the gift of perspective we give You thanks and praise.  AMEN

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Prayer in the Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Our God who dwells in the highest heights and in the souls of our feet:
We find You in the passion of those who delight in testing and celebrating the power of their bodies:
·    The runners who push themselves to find new challenges in the rhythm of the road and the camaraderie of the race;
·    The doctors, medics, police, fire fighters and bystanders whose dedication to humanity drives them to run into the fray - towards the bruised and bloodied bodies in the streets.
On this day of destruction, we need to remember that the race is not for the swift[i]; there is no finish line for those who seek a better world.
Neither bombs, nor blood, not death, nor destruction can deter us from running, O God.
We run to You.
We run towards a vision of perfection that is always in our sights.
We run determined to never allow hatred to obscure Your presence.
We run to build a better world.
Be with those who have lost loved ones on this tragic day.
Send comfort and healing to the injured and the maimed.
Heal them – heal us all – body and soul – as we strive to find You.
Give us hope.
Help us to use our arms, our legs, our breath, our determination to unite in a common purpose.
In our grief may we find the strength to keep on running.





[i] Ecclesiastes 9:11

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gardens and Gavels - Prayer for the CO State House - 4/4/13

Gardens and Gavels
Opening Prayer for the Colorado House of Representatives
Rabbi Joseph R. Black
Temple Emanuel – Denver, CO
April 4, 2013
Our God and God of Times and Seasons.

We have come here this morning to bring about change.  The dynamic process of debate and discussion that begins with drop of the speaker’s gavel, while imperfect, represents our human desire to bring our world one step closer to holiness.

Legislation will be carefully crafted.  Today is a day when our State budget will be debated. 

Words will be chosen with exquisite care – designed both to provoke and to move the hearts and souls of colleagues on opposite sides of the isle.

Alliances will be forged and broken and forged again – subject to economic feasibility, party platform, the whims of political reality and the delicate dance of public opinion.

In truth legislating and budgeting  are messy processes. 

The walls of this chamber sometimes seem to be all consuming, and yet, outside it is almost time for planting.

Those who dream of gardens know that the soil must first be prepared; last autumn’s debris removed and nutrients must be liberally applied.

The seeds that promise both blossom and harvest lie dormant in the palms of our hands – waiting to be nestled in the warm embrace of fertile soil soaked in life-giving water.

Holy Creator - may these men and women who labor on our behalf become gardeners.  Give them the strength to till the fields; to break new ground, to water new shoots and, (dare I say it?), spread the fertilizer necessary to bring to harvest a comprehensive budget for our state. 

Give them the tools they will need.  Help them to remember that the ever-changing climate of Spring will soon give way to the consistent warmth of summer. 

May ours be a balanced garden – and a balanced budget- filled with both beauty and sustenance.  May the harvest of this session overflow with goodness and compassion.

We pray for rain.  We pray for strength. We give thanks for the ability to be your partner in growing a better world.