My Christmas prayer

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Last night in synagogue as we sang Shalom Aleichem and welcomed the angels of Shabbat it occurred to me ….

Whether the angel sits on top of a tree and/or has wings and/or wears clothes, a robe and/or plays a harp and/or wears an halo …

Remember, the word angel is derived from the ancient Latin, and before that the Greek word for “messenger.” This word is a translation of the Hebrew malach which means a divine messenger. A messenger of the holy. An unscheduled, but often sudden, appearance of God’s energy in the world.

For us Jews, angels, malachim and messengers have a special way of appearing on Shabbat. They are welcome.

For many people around the world, this night is also one of watching and waiting. This is not for Santa Claus, but for angels messengers of God, holiness, and hope. Let this be a night of angels for our Christian friends.

I want to thank my Christian friends for their love and support.

As my words were being said, the congregation could hear the sounds of Silent Night coming from Unity Church’s Christmas Eve services. While we prayed in the library, we had given them our sanctuary.

As my mind wandered over those words, along with “Silent Night”, several thoughts flashed through it and my soul.

First, angels. The presence of angels is what makes a theological Venn diagram between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

This is why my younger son, Gabriel, was born in a time when there was great hope for Middle East peace. The name Gabriel is a testimony to the angel’s simultaneous presence within Jewish, Christian and Muslim lore.

His first name is more than his last name. His name is a prayer.

Second – the melody of Unity Church, our tenant. It was not so long ago that a Christian melody wafting through a synagogue was considered a threat. This was a deliberate attempt to invade us by a stronger religious culture.

This is not the case anymore. This isn’t just because we live in an open society. It’s not just that conversion and intermarriage have almost guaranteed that many American Jews have gentile relatives.

It’s also true that Christians, Jews and Muslims have all come to realize that in these difficult times, there is a common …

Twenty years ago, “threat” was the right word. But I have softened a bit and now I say a common “challenge.” It is how we import, infuse, and infuse the possibility that the sacred can be made more secular.

The world is crying out for hope. If religions work well, they will provide it.

Do you trust the angels to give it?

Bring it on, you.

Third – It occurs to me that Shabbat is America’s closest thing to a true Shabbat. It is like this: Most stores are closed, people are at home with their families and there is less traffic.

For one day, the commercial world shuts down or is put on hold, and the true holy leaps into view.

For my Christian friends, and readers: May this be the day that the Christ child is born within you.

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