Skip to main content

A moment of Shalom

It was a moment we call “Shalom."  When the peace of God that passes all understanding descends and, together, we breathe in the realization that God has already been here. Such was our experience at the Joint Ecumenical Service of Prayer and Reflection between Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, an ELCA Congregation, and Pardes Levavot, a Jewish Renewal Congregation, in Boulder, Colorado on October 22. With the opening of the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality came an unexpected invitation to host Rev. Matthew Fox at our Sunday morning worship. This was an opportunity to deepen the unique relationship which has existed between Shepherd and Pardes since early 2004.   
 Rabbi Victor Gross, Rabbi Nadya Gross, and Rev. Janet Kettering welcome all to the service 

As congregations from two distinct, yet deeply-connected faith traditions, we had studied together, participated in missional events, and broken bread together.  As faith leaders and clergy couples, we had shared Shabbat dinner and worshiped together on Christmas Eve and Rosh HaShanah. However, we had never embarked on creating a worship experience which could be inviting and meaningful to both faith traditions and the community at large. We agreed that it was critical to honor the sacred elements of both traditions. Our shared sanctuary, with its warm design of natural light and the mixed metals of the Shekinah Glory and Dove of Peace reflected in the credence table, invited such a venture. The sound of running water descending from cupped leaf to cupped leaf of the baptismal font calls forth peace and new life.  Ironically, the rich designs of these sacred elements had come through the vision of a Boulder artist and Jewish designer nearly a decade before. One can only wonder if they had also envisioned that their shared artistic expression would ultimately weave together the rich traditions of an established Lutheran congregation and a budding Jewish Renewal community.
The community gathered around the altar as Rabbi Victor read from the Torah.

With excitement, planning, and space for the Spirit to move, the moment arrived and we came together, “renewing” Jews and “re-formed” Lutherans, to sing and pray. In silent adoration of the Torah, we listened as the promise to Abraham poured forth, then later echoed in the Words of Institution. Together we stood, hearts woven together in the Lord’s Prayer, prayed first in Hebrew, then English, culminating in an intricate, un-choreographed dance of healing prayer, lighting candles, blessing and dining…a moment of peace we call “Shalom."


Popular posts from this blog

Reflection from the Borderlands

Where is God In Immigration Court?

"People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.' And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16) 

Throughout my childhood (even to this day), Mark 10 was special to me. I thought about how cool it would be to be defended by this Jesus guy after not being allowed to be anywhere near the 'grown-up table,' (I'm an only child, so the kid's table was lonely for me at Thanksgivings). Seriously, Jesus spoke to and of children often, kindly and with admiration; this is not something that can or should be overlooked.

Last week I met up with AMMPARO's (Accompanying Migrant …

La Paz de Cristo Rey

La Iglesia de Cristo Rey is a Spanish-speaking congregation in Denver that I went to visit on Sunday. I was a little intimidated to worship there with my barely-conversational Spanish abilities, but made the trip anyway. I wanted to experience worship in a different language primarily for the various cultural customs that inherently come with it. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
As I walked up the steps to the sanctuary, I saw two toddlers in First Communion-style dresses. Then, I saw a teenager in a beautiful gown not unlike the one I, myself, wore to junior prom. The front of the church was filled with women in dresses and men in ties. It was a quinceañera, the celebration of a woman turning fifteen that marks her transition from childhood to adulthood. 
The merging of this birthday celebration and worship was truly special. She sat front and center before Father Q, who asked her to reaffirm her faith throughout the service. At times during the sermon he spoke directly to h…