In the past several days’ Epistle readings (Acts 9-10), St. Peter is made to know that there is no difference between Jew and Gentiles, or as we heard on Sunday Paul’s lack of distinction between circumcised and uncircumcised (again, the Jew and the Gentile).
Our Jewish chaplain made arrangements to hold Shabbat service and a festive Shabbat dinner at one of our three major (and original base camps) where she would meet a Jewish Crew. No problem, I said. I’ll do the Chaplains’ Aide Training today. And as we approached our usual 7:00pm Chapel Service time (each faith tradition holds a daily 7:00pm Vespers service – Mormon, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish), about 20 minutes before the appointed time, I was with a couple of our other chaplains and asked, “Do you know if anyone has been asked to lead Jewish service here with Cantor Lori gone? None of us knew.
Every Scout who comes to Philmont is given an interfaith, or maybe I should say ‘multi-faith’ booklet titled, Eagles Soaring High, which includes many devotional materials for their trek. It has Christian, Jewish and Muslim resources. And we encourage in our training of Chaplain’s Aides for them to utilize materials from other traditions than their own.
Chatting with my colleagues about the Jewish Chapel service this evening, and our question of a blank in the system – three of my colleagues were ‘constrained’ by their own services. I was free. “Well,” I said, “it won’t be good, but I can offer something, if anyone shows up at the Jewish Chapel.”
So, I took my copy of Eagles and quickly highlighted various portions that I recognized from my times playing the organ at Beth Israel in Honesdale. And prayed that no one would show up. Fifty Scouts and adults wandered in. Only five of them were Jewish! OK, so now what do I do? If I had 45 Jews, they could help me muddle through. But for the 5 Jews present, I knew they would understand and appreciate that I would attempt to help their observance of Shabbat. The Christians? “This is definitely NOT a typical Shabbat service – I’m an Episcopalian. When you go home, attend a Shabbat service in your own local synagogue.
But with Olivia, a Jewish staff member, and the couple of Jewish members of the gathering, we suffered through it together. We rehearsed the Ten Commandments, the Shema Israel (and how Jesus used it as the basis of the “Two Great Commandments” – “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” If only, I said, We could all just get those two in line by using the Big Ten, the world would be a happier place.
Is there a separation between Jew and Gentile/Pagan/Christian? I don’t really think so.
In Acts 10, Peter says, “Anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable in his sight.”
May it be so, Jew, Episcopalian hoping to fulfill a Jew’s Shabbat’s observance …whomever. I pray that both Jew and Gentile were and are blessed this night.
And, oh. How I wish I could be at Ponil Camp for that wondrous Shabbat celebration and dinner!
Sabbath rest be to you.
(Remember that God commands rest this day! The Seventh – Just saying!)