HARVEST JOY! – ROSH HASHANAH
ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam
Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of the Universe,
Through your goodness we enjoy...the blessings of the harvest!
Apples hanging heavy on branches bowed to the ground remind us to give thanks for the abundance of harvest this year.
At Florence our fall worship begins by drawing upon the Jewish fall festivals, as described in Leviticus 23. The first was The Feast of Trumpets, now known as Rosh Hashanah (“The Head of the Year” or New Year). It came as the harvest was gathered in. The shofar, ram’s horn, is blown, sweet challah bread and apples dipped in honey are eaten. And a season of “accounting” begins with tossing crumbs on the river, releasing our sins and regrets of the past year to God. Nine days later Jews gather for Yom Kippur, the Feast of Atonement, where, with prayer and fasting, they turn to the mercy of God to release them from the destructive power of their sins.
So, we gathered by the Fawn River for our Fall Camp Out. Some fasted through the day on Saturday, praying for wise actions toward peace and justice in Syria. All of us gathering at the sound of the shofar, to learn to sing the Shema (“Hear, O Israel”) in Hebrew, to offer our thanks to God, and taste sweet challah and apples and honey, and to toss our crumbs of regret into the river. We read “Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashana” by Sylvia A. Rouss to introduce us children of all ages to this festival. Naomi Wenger taught us about the fall feasts which shaped Jesus inheritance as a Jew, and the roots of our own Christian tree. We recalled the blessings of the gifts of life – sounds, smells, tastes, sensations on the skin and wonders to the eyes. “It is good to be alive!”
Now we enter a week of self examination with the desire to make peace and justice in the domains of our own lives. Psalms of lament will help give voice to our prayers during these Days of Awe.
To learn more about the current practice of the Days of Awe you may want to listen to a podcast from “On Being.” Krista Tippett interviews Sharon Brous:
We delve into the world and meaning of the Jewish High Holy Days — ten days that span the new year of Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur's rituals of atonement. A young rabbi in L.A. is one voice in a Jewish spiritual renaissance that is taking many forms across the U.S. The vast majority of her congregation are people in their 20s and 30s, who, she says, are making life-giving connections between ritual, personal transformation, and relevance in the world.
A powerful Rosh Hashanah sermon by Rabbi Sharon Brous, “An Accounting of the Soul,” can help us “work out our faith with fear and trembling,” and tremendous hope. She quotes Rav Kook:
There are those who sing the song of their own soul, finding therein everything: full spiritual satisfaction…
And there are those who sing the song of the people, moving beyond their own soul, reaching for more powerful heights…
And there are those whose souls lift beyond the limitation of Israel, to sing the song of all humanity. This spirit expands to include the glory of the human image and its dreams…
And there are those who lift beyond this level, becoming one with all creation and all creatures, and all the worlds… and with all of these worlds sing a song…
And there are those who rise together with the bungle of all these songs. All of them sing out, each gives meaning and life to the other.
And this completeness is the song of holiness, the song of God, and the song of Israel.
Here is the link for the complete sermon: