Resources

 

Pastor's Bible Study

Every Wednesday morning during the school year, Dr. Furr teaches adults on a wide variety of topics with discussion – often a book of the Bible or some aspect of the Christian life or doctrine. All you need is a Bible and an inquisitive mind! Occasionally, a particular book is ordered for everyone who wants to purchase a copy. This group meets on Wednesday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Adult Seminar Room across from the Library. Find current topics under Latest News. Please join in.

 

Pastor's Column

 

i decided to smile

november 6, 2018


 

Last Tuesday, Vickie and I, with brother David and Claudia, attended with many others the memorial gathering on Southside in front of Temple Beth-El to mourn the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. We found ourselves recognizing friends, but there were far more people we were seeing for the first time—neighbors we didn’t know.  Christian, Jew, Muslim, and hard to tell. More than a thousand, we came simply to say, “This is not us. We are with you.” As far as I could tell, politics was not present. Grief, empathy, compassion and a desire to do something to make it better.

Rabbi Yossi Friedman of Chabad of Alabama challenged us to do a mitzvah. Mitzvah is the Hebrew word in the Old Testament that means, “commandment.” But in the secondary meaning for our Jewish friends, it means to do a good deed that carries out the spirit of the Law. In this case, to act in love to our neighbors to counter-act the terrible violence that is too prevalent today.  When I looked at those around me I did not know, I decided to smile. That speaks to me. Our New Testament tells us that love is the highest expression of our faith. So I will do a mitzvah. I decided my first mitzvah will be to contact the rabbi and have lunch together.

On Sunday, my heart was full as we observed the All Saints service. The beautiful act of mourning and remembering together leads us to be near one another in kindness and tender spirit. I watched the spontaneous outpouring of members walking to the beautiful wreaths Marsha Baker put together for us to pin the names of loved ones, some recent, many in the past, who are still with us in our hearts and minds.

I didn’t have to decide. I smiled, this time in tender recognitions. I was not happy, but there was a palpable peace in the room. The Spirit of God was upon us. We felt the holiness of common worship.

So this morning, Tuesday, I went to vote. I didn’t know anyone there at this moment with me. A lot of umbrellas were open and functioning. A few recognized friends and spoke. Most were very quiet. Some looked down.  Some frowned.  Most just looked blank. The poll workers were friendly. It’s a hard, thankless job, but they are the most important people in an election.

I saw people eager to get to work. A young man had a child’s quilted backpack and two preschoolers by the hand, probably to drop them off after he voted.

What a wonderful privilege it is to have a place where you speak your mind freely. I decided to smile. A frowner smiled back as we walked out. “What a great day, to live where we speak our minds. I decided just to smile.”

“What?” he said. We were obviously from different worlds with a simple glance.

“I decided to smile.  We’re all in this together.  I think we need to start speaking to one another better.”

“I hear that.” He smiled, for the first time. “You have a good day.”

“You, too.”

On Friday, we will host our veterans for our annual Veterans Day luncheon to honor those who serve our nation, past and present. It is a time to acknowledge that our liberties come at great price and that we appreciate them.

And yes, I plan to smile, right up to Thanksgiving Day. We have enough loss, tragedy, anger and distrust. A smile isn’t all that much, but it’s a start.

I am grateful for all of you. So I decided to smile at you when I see you again.         

                                  Gary