Friday, January 8, 2016

A Brief Word for Shabbat Va'era, January 8, 2016

Many of you have expressed difficulty in finding meaning in the prayers of the prayer book.  You are not alone.  Every colleague I know who leads worship, cantors and rabbis included, has experienced the same feedback particularly from those among the baby boomer and Gen-X generations.  “How can I pray these words if I don’t believe them?” is among the most common complaints.  At the heart of this struggle is the question of God.  What is God? Do I believe in God?  And, if not, what is the purpose of prayer?  In other words, why bother?

These are all valid questions.  I imagine our biblical ancestors struggled with them equally as they wrote the stories of Exodus we read this time of year, even as they wrote the story of Moses being tasked by this God to be a leader of the Israelite nation as it journeys from Egypt to promise. 

It is far easier to avoid coming to worship services when we have doubts (especially when worship takes place on Saturday mornings, no less - believe me, I get it!); but, know that surety is not a prerequisite for prayer.  Belief in God is not a prerequisite for prayer.  I could not stand up and lead you if it were.  Valuing the support of community, the art of poetic expression, and the legacy of history is.  Shabbat shalom.