Christmas at the synagogue
I hear a great deal these days about divisions within our society. Increasingly, people are being called to become members of one of two age-old clubs: “us” and “them.” In addition, life seems to be lived more as an individual than as a team sport. And yet, look at my world. I am the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.
Recently, we had to move out of our historic building because of damage caused to our walls by the August earthquake centered in Virginia. Within days we received several offers to help house our various services from Lutherans, Methodists, fellow Episcopalians and our generous neighbors at Mount Zion AME Church.
The next thing we know, we are benefitting from the gifts of our fellow citizens and worshiping on Sundays at 11:15 at the oldest Catholic parish in the Carolinas, St. Mary’s on Hasell Street.
Why is this?
After all, we have more than our share of divisive issues that could keep us apart today as they have down through the ages. And yet, the offers kept coming.
Picture my surprise as an invitation came from the president of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue across from St. Mary’s to have Christmas services at their location. Did I get that right? Did our Jewish brothers and sisters just invite us for Christmas at the synagogue? And then it hit me.
It is not agreement that matters but commitment. We are committed to one another, and, as in family life, commitment goes a lot further than agreement; commitment to what really matters. If you are hurting, I’m hurting too because we are all connected in this community and know that “together” is the only way to face whatever challenge comes our way.
I don’t know about you but in a world increasingly divided I found my heart strangely warmed. Divided you say? I think not. I am resolved that this one bright example of coming together will change my life from this holy season onward.
We all have what it takes to make more of this happen. After all, there are but two necessary ingredients that make up such mutual support and interdependence: admitting to a need and offering to help. Who among us has not tasted both of these in our collective history as a community and a nation?
By the way, our friends at the synagogue did offer up one final question to us:
Can you come for Easter, too?
The Rev. Canon J. Michael A. Wright
Grace Episcopal Church
Grace Church will offer its Annual Christmas Service of Lessons and Carols at the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue at 90 Hasell Street tonight at 7 o’clock.