Saturday, March 16, 2019

Remarks at the Solidarity Vigil at the Denver Islamic Center Following the Shooting in New Zealand

Our God and God of all Humanity. 

We come here today to express our grief in the aftermath of the tragic and horrific act of terror that took place less than 48 hours ago in Christchurch, NZ. 

Our hearts are broken as we think about the violence and hatred that stole away the lives of at least 50 precious souls who did nothing other than come to a sacred house of prayer to worship on their holiest day.  We grieve with their spouses and parents, their children, family and friends who will have to deal  with this senseless act of violence and terror for the rest of their lives. 

For Members of the Jewish community, today is also a holy day. We have come here-some who have walked long distances in observance of the Shabbat- because we know the pain, the fear, the anguish of being targeted. 

Four and a half months ago, our synagogue- Temple Emanuel- was filled to overflowing - just as this holy Mazjid is also filled- with people of every faith, skin color and creed. The aftermath of the tragedy in Pittsburgh-showed members of the Jewish community that we are bound together with our sisters and brothers in the Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and every other religious tradition in solidarity as we confront the evil of racism and intolerance. 

We pray that the God of Abraham and Ishmael, of Moses and Muhammad (Peace be upon him), of Jesus and Buddha of everyone who sees the holiness implanted with all humanity might inspire every human heart with compassion and determination to end our potential for hurt and see the good within all of us. 
We come together in peace. 
We come together in love. 
We pray that our next gathering will not be the result of violence- but a promise of hope.
עושה שלום בימרומיו, הוא יעשה שלום עלינו ועל כל יושבי תבל
May the One who makes peace in places far beyond our understanding, send peace to us and all humankind -and let us say, amen.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Urgency of the Halfway: Opening Prayer for the Colorado State House

The Bible teaches that Moses lived to be 120 years old. This May, I will be celebrating my 60th birthday. If I strive to be like Moses – I will have lived half of my life when I celebrate this milestone of 6 decades on earth. Modern medicine notwithstanding, the odds of replicating Moses’ longevity and strength are slim to none. Nonetheless, I’d like to think that I have a few more good years ahead of me.

At such a liminal moment, it is impossible not to think about two different, yet complimentary ideas: longevity and productivity. 

There are times in all our lives when we are confronted with a realization that many, if not most of our goals, hopes, dreams and visions no longer lie in some fuzzy future, but rather they become the province of the past and the vision of a very real present. They can taunt us with an unwelcome awareness of urgency – as though the lengthy path on which we have traveled suddenly transforms – becoming increasingly rocky – our ascent grows steeper as the summit draws near. And if we try to retrace our steps to see how far we have come; when we comprehend how little time and space lie in front of us, we suddenly realize that the end is now closer than the beginning.  We marvel both at how quickly the days are passing and how often we spurned the precious hours afforded us to complete our treasured tasks.

This morning, we come together in this sacred place at the half-way point of our legislative session.  We marvel at the passage of time while simultaneously feeling the anxiety of the layers of unfinished business that loom in front of us.  In a world that all too often demands unyielding perfection from its leaders, there is little, if any, margin for error.  Words of condemnation come easy in political parlance.  But as hard as we are on our colleagues, we are even more merciless on ourselves.  Those who have been chosen to serve feel the burden of answering the clarion call of the people:  to make a difference; to change the unchangeable; to fix the flaws in our laws, fate of our state and the holes in our souls.  And yet, the realities of time and space force us to acknowledge that we cannot complete every task.

And so we pray:

Dear God, You  created us with imperfections.  Watch over all who serve in this chamber:  the legislators and the lawyers, the captains and clerks; the interns and the innovators.  Give them both the strength to pursue the task of governance, and the patience to accept that there is always more to accomplish than is humanly possible.  Protect the souls of your servants who are exposed to the harshness to human expectation.  Help them to support one another –even in the heat of debate and disagreement.  Let any conflict that arises be for the sake of our Great State of Colorado and teach us to quickly forgive and forget the sting of slogans and slights that are thrown about in the messy process of  crafting legislation.   As the end of this session looms ever larger in the forefront of our consciousness, may every person here become reconciled to the sacred necessity for compromise and communion.

We thank You for the ability to make a difference.  We see You in the passion of our colleagues.  We seek Your presence in our daily lives.  AMEN