In this service, we welcome Rabbi David Wirtschafter. Rabbi Wirtschafter has served Temple Adath Israel in Lexington since 2015. Previously he has worked at congregations in New York, California, and Iowa. A graduate of Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College –Jewish Institute of Religion (North America’s seminary for Reform Judaism), Rabbi Wirtschafter remains dedicated to the values at the core of his education and training: devotion to learning, commitment to inclusion and working for justice.
This week, we'll be looking at Jesus' wake-up call to his disciples and followers. We'll consider our own cycles of metaphorical sleep and the subversive message of Christ that calls us to the Living Waters.
We are excited this week to welcome Rev. Dr. Kara Kilpatrick to preach this week. Kara and her husband Jeno worship with us regularly at Early Worship, and we are delighted for her to lead us this Sunday. Kara was born and raised in Birmingham, AL. She received her M.Div. from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and her Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary. She was ordained in the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley when she became a chaplain through the Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare system in Memphis, TN. She worked in chaplaincy for 7 years before entering medical school at East Tennessee State University from which she graduated with her M.D. in 2016. She moved to Kentucky for Psychiatry Residency training at the University of Kentucky and is currently a Fellow in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Kara is married to Jeno Smith, and they share their home with Doogie, a 7 pound maltipoo.
Last year, on October 27th, we witnessed a horrific and terrible shooting inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 11 congregants were killed, two police officers and two others were wounded. Soon afterward, the Lexington community gathered in a show of solidarity and support with our Jewish friends and neighbors for a service of prayer, repentance, and remembering. At that service, and at the direction of area Rabbis, we soiled and desecrated a Tallith, or Jewish Prayer Shawl, in acknowledgment of our corporate sins including xenophobia, hatred and gun violence. We have this Tallith on display in our worship space and will turn our attention this Sunday, not only to the terrible reality of our troubles, fears, and sins but also with confident trust toward the hope-filled proclamation of God's greater promise for forgiveness and new life.
This Sunday, we gather for a service of repentance and renewal. Following last year's synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, the Lexington community gathered in solidarity with Temple Adath Israel and Ohavay Zion Synagogue after this tragic event. During the service, a prayer shawl was purposefully soiled with wine to signify our failings to live as God's beloved community, and call us to work for peace.
On Sunday, we reflect alongside this symbol—a reminder of our shortcomings and an invitation to join in God's work of justice and reconciliation. Far beyond guilt and shame, God invites our fractured humanity to wholehearted living that walks in grace and truth in an ever-widening community of love. May we see more clearly the path of God's lovingkindness and walk together in faith.
This Sunday we contemplate our need for stillness and silence. As we consider the beginning of Jesus' ministry, we also acknowledge the many silent years that preceded his first sermon. As we take time to still our hearts and minds together, perhaps we'll hear more clearly the call of God to us--the call to beloved children to be still and cherish contented moments of God's presence--the call to follow Jesus out beyond ourselves and into places of peace, justice, and hope for all people.
Silence is a gift. It comes to us freely. It is never rude, intrusive or abusive. It is available every day we seek after it. It can provide healing and clarity for our souls. It is the power of the faithful against an onslaught of noise, distractions, and divisiveness. A discipline of silence provides the foundation for clearing out our ears and cleaning out our heads. Once we kept silence, we are next able to listen; truly, authentically, and deeply seeking to discern and discover the voice of God. This week we are thinking about Jesus' start to his public ministry found in the Gospel of Luke. In Nazareth, he preaches his first sermon to his hometown congregation. His preparation has included 40 days of silence in the wilderness. Before he speaks, he has kept silent. Next, he invites us to listen to the liberating words of the prophet Isaiah. This is the transformational formula we will remember this Sunday in worship. Seek silence before listening. Listen for the needs around you before you speak. Allow this process to fill you with God's loving Spirit in your actions and words. And it all begins with the gift of silence.
Our 11 a.m. worship this Sunday will include the grace-filled invitation and loving inclusion we find when gathered at the Lord's table. We affirm the integrity of every person, as gifted, valuable and precious before the eyes of God. The incredibly talented Daniel Beasley will also offer a solo in this service in addition to our wonderful sanctuary choir. Let us march on, having come a long way and still in need of a long way to go for wholeness and redemption for all in the world.
How quickly the light and joy of Christmas turns to gray skies and treacherous journeys. As we consider the words of the prophet Isaiah, we remember that even in our struggles, God is still with us. Often, it's on the difficult road that we find the sustenance and grace that strengthens us and brings us to a heightened awareness of the true depths of God's entwinement with our humanity.
In a culture of constant and unrelenting noise, it is often difficult to hear the voice of God. This Sunday, we continue our preparations for a new year by thinking together about the possibility and promise of spiritual direction. God's voice is heard through the pages of scripture, the example, and teachings of Jesus, the attentive conversations within the Christian community and through the gentle force of disciplined prayer. Join us as we reason and worship together on how God continues to lead and speak to us.
This year we are delighted that the traditional date for Epiphany (January 6th) will fall on a Sunday. Throughout Christian history, this date has celebrated the way God's revelation was expanded beyond the Jewish world. Magi from the East were not only attentive to the silent voice of God they heard calling with the star's appearing, but were determined to seek out and follow this light wherever it might lead them. With the beginning of this new year, we seek to learn from their example, to resist earthly definitions of power, all in an effort to sort out God's universal message of liberation and love for all people.
Early Worship will resume on January 6. As we celebrate Epiphany together, we'll consider again the paradoxical nature of the messianic journey of God's son. From the outset, tables are turned, roles are reversed, the powerful are brought low, and the humble and seemingly insignificant are charged with great power. Join us as we gather to contemplate the beautiful irony of God's salvific work in this new year.
As in years past, we will have readers take us through the biblical story of the birth of Jesus; from prophetic musings to the lovely tale of shepherds, wise men, angels, and the baby. Interspersed with these readings will be music provided by the choir and traditional hymns sung by all. This combination of spoken and sung words provides a lovely opportunity to remember and worship. We hope you will make an extra effort to be here and maybe even invite a friend or neighbor to join you.
On December 16, our third Sunday of Advent worship service, will highlight a musical that our children have worked on the last several months. They are presenting a story of Lighty the lightning bug, who hears of Jesus' birth and travels to see him. But Lighty has trouble deciding what gift to take to this newborn baby. As he journeys to Bethlehem, Lighty encounters many other insects who help decide on a gift to take the newborn Messiah. Come and see the talents of our children and the gift that Lighty chooses to give to Jesus.
God’s hope for the world includes all people in the world. Jesus said, God’s will is that not one of any of “these little ones would perish.” In hearing and responding to such a broad gospel proclamation, our hearts and lives are enlarged for all the world.
In the darkness of confusion and uncertainty, we find ourselves waiting for the light of the good news to dawn. Together, we join throughout time immemorial with the faithful chorus in anticipation of the revealing and rescue of the Lord.
Following up on our previous conversations regarding holding on to hope in difficult times of trouble, we now face one of the most arduous spiritual instructions offered by Jesus. In the middle of his revolutionary Sermon on the Mount, he tells us not to worry about our life and the necessary attributes require to sustain it. It is a wild and seemingly unrealistic expectation that surprisingly might also be the pathway to a life of liberation, peace and a deeper appreciation for the more sustaining power of grace.