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Letter from Liz: Nov 2, 2021

Jacob Lawrence, Harriet Tubman Series, Panel No. 4, 1939-40, casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 17 7/8 inches, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Virginia

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might Deut. 6:4

Dear friends,

Last Sunday I spoke about the Shema and loving God ‘very muchly’ drawing on Deut 6:4 but then weaving in how Jesus and Paul interpreted this critical liturgical statement. I mentioned I’d met with a Rabbi as I prepared - thanks to Rob - I also asked Rob his thoughts….

Here’s what he said:

i) As you grew up what resonated with you as you said the Shema? I heard it only occasionally, as I grew up in only a nominally Jewish home. We did not pray routinely and and we went to synagogue only twice a year, at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but when I did hear it chanted by the Cantor during these sacred services, it centered my worldview in God as the transcendent, yet personal deity (“The Lord YOUR God")

ii) How does the Shema draw you to love God more fully? It speaks to me of devoting EVERY part of ourselves to God—emotions (heart), intellect (mind), spirit (soul), behavior—what we do and refrain from doing (strength).

iii) How can the Shema stir us to social action? Because it is linked inseparably to the Second Great Commandment (some Bible scholars interpret Jesus' connection to the two as “the second is “equivalent to it,”) it implicates how we treat others, or contribute to the conditions they live in. Our attitudes about others must reflect this core tenet (loving God by doing what He commands) and loving others as ourselves. Justice includes equality and equity (“as yourself”).

Thanks, Rob! Ask him directly for more details - he is SUCH a fount of wisdom....

I wonder how you are processing the idea of loving God very muchly this week? I love the way that the Deuteronomy passage goes on and talks about the ways we need to teach our children. This week, SImon and I headed out for a walk to see some Fall colors - and we had a lovely, lovely hike. Only problem was, there weren’t that many big trees that were bright red: many were a dull orange and various shades of brown-y colours. Nice but not dramatic. But we did find a few spindly bright red little saplings and then some tiny seedlings: I loved seeing the tiny 2-leaf ‘trees’ in glorious red (see pic above for a 6 leaf version!). Little things showing off the splendor of the Fall with their glorious colour changes. It made me think about how we can see God’s beauty reflected in every person in our community: from smallest to biggest, oldest to youngest. Beauty shown as people externally demonstrate their internal love for God in their love for others in kindness and grace, mercy and deliberate actions. God lays on us the responsibility to learn and grow and then respond: to SHOW how we are loving him. Grateful for the ways that nature does it before us. Grateful for the ways we are all called to step up to the needy world around us.

In other news:

  • FALL BACK: clocks go back at 2am on Sunday morning. Don't forget!!

  • Have you being praying for COP26? We need to keep world leaders in our prayers as they struggle with climate change and more. Got thoughts? Want to share them? You could always write a blog... let me know!

  • Our new VA governor has been elected - I hope you voted! And now, whether you voted blue or red, our communal job is to look for the flourishing of all people in 22204. Let's pray for our leaders, look for opportunities to serve our neighbors and practice kindness!

  • This Sunday we will remember “All Souls” - have you sent the photo of your loved one to Amy yet?

  • And then we linger and have a Levantine brunch ... what can you bring to share that has a vaguely mediterranean/West Asian fusion feel? You can also take time to question Megan and Amy about their upcoming trip - and DON'T FORGET to give them your prayer requests before they go.

  • And then for some (yes, we are still talking about this Sunday) - child safety training. The group is pretty full but if you need to get trained, please reach out to Ginny and plead your case!

  • Sunday Nov 14 - stay after church and hear about our plans for a pilgrimage hike to Oberammergau in Bavaria (probably next June…)

So grateful for each of you - let me know when you want to walk or talk!

Your pastor,



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