The Gift of Time

In Exodus 12:2 the Lord says to Israel:

הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם, רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים

“This month shall be to you the beginning of months…”

Insignificant? This time marker for the month of Nissan (March/April on our calendar) reveals something vital – freedom. The Lord issued a command, because Israel would now be free.

Those in bondage do not manage their own time, it is managed, or dare I say, it is the possession of someone else. Yet, the Lord returning time, and therefore life to Israel, is also instruction them to manage their time, and their lives wisely.

The gift of time is a gift of life. The Lord established markers in time: new moons, festivals and Shabbat not only to mark the year, but to refresh our lives.

A new week, a new month, or a new season breaks up the seeming unending sameness. Why? Because without these reminders of freedom, we become enslaved once again; perhaps not to a pharaoh, but to the mocking monotony of the doldrums.

“This shall be the beginning of months for you…” this shall be the beginning of sanctifying time, recognizing it as a holy gift, and using it to improve not only your own life but the community around you.

In 2020 so much was taken away from us, but the Lord has given us the gift of time. Now, as people free in Him, how shall we use it?

That, I leave to you. Use your imagination.

Be well; shalom.

Driving by the Rearview Mirror

To drive forward in a vehicle you cannot look only in the backward facing mirror; rather, you glance at it as you travel forward.

In the faith life, it is such a temptation to look only in the rearview mirror as we travel the road with the Lord.

If this is our condition we are merely archivists and curators of faith. Hebrews 11 dismisses this type of faith; as they too, well aware of where the Lord had brought them from, were ever mindful of where they were going: a land and a city prepared by God.

We are therefore all links in the transmission of the Word of God, שַׁלְשֶׁ֓לֶת/Shalshelet, meaning a chain. In the cantillation of the Torah, the שַׁלְשֶׁ֓לֶת/Shalshelet is a note sung, among the least common notes of the Torah melody, used only four times.

What do we learn? We are called to a living and, in these days it seems, an uncommon faith. Looking to the past in glances that help us move forward, while allowing the Living Word to go before us; as the Word is living, and still speaking of things unfolding and yet to be.

So hold on to that uncommon, new song, or perhaps just a single note that sounds, drawing the attention of the ears called to hear as you travel on the road of faith.

Meditation: Hebrews 11:13-16.

Be well; shalom.

Where Unity is Tasted

I love harmony. It is such a joy to hear the vocal harmonies of our worship team. It is thrilling to hear the oneness of the congregation singing in unity, flowing the prompting of the Spirit of God. But where is unity tasted?

Each week we sing the Sh’ma, Hear of Israel, in communal worship:

שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל: יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד

“Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

In most Siddurim (prayer books), the final letter dalet (ד), of the word אֶחָד/echad/one is enlarged. The practice in some congregations is to give greater weight to the word אֶחָד/echad/one, by singing this word with a long breath, and ending it sharply, followed by silence.

It is in this silence, following the singing of אֶחָד/echad/one, that we taste unity in the Spirit. As no one’s voice is louder, or softer, more appealing or less appealing, rather we are ushered into a harmony in silence before the Lord ever so briefly; a silence that draws us deeper into vocal harmony in worship.

It is good to taste the unity of togetherness in silence as we allow the door, dalet (ד), of heaven to open among us.

Be well; Shalom