The Temple in a Church: Celebrating 13 Years of Love and Friendship

Sunday, October 15, 2017; Rabbi Howard A. Berman

This morning, in my first sermon of both this new church program season, as well as our Jewish New Year,  5778,  I want to share some reflections on a very special shared milestone for all of us — of both Central Reform Temple and Emmanuel Church. The New Year, that we have just celebrated, is indeed a momentous one for all of us of the Temple, as we mark the 13th Anniversary of the Founding of our Congregation!   Just three weeks ago,  our celebration of Rosh Hashanah inaugurated what we are calling our Kehilat Mitzvah Year– an egalitarian Hebrew variant on the Bar and Bat Mitzvah 13th birthday tradition, which means “ A Community of the Commandments.” In this very symbolic way, we seek to frame and reaffirm many of our Temple’s core values as we celebrate this milestone. Continue reading

Racism is wrong. We must do better.

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 18B, September 6, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.

James 2:1-10 (11-13) 14-17 Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Mark 7:24-37 They were astounded beyond measure.

O God of mercy, grant us the strength, the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

The lessons we just heard from Proverbs and James make it abundantly clear that the blessing of God is upon those who are generous, who share their bread with people who do not have enough. The evidence of blessing is not simply prosperity. I often hear people who are experiencing abundance expressing gratitude, giving thanks to God and saying, “I am so blessed.” But according to Proverbs, it’s not the fact of abundance that is a blessing from God; it’s the distribution of abundance so that everyone gets enough. The evidence of blessing of God is in the sharing. And James says that mercy triumphs over judgment – mercy trumps judgment — every time in the realm of God. Whenever there’s a conflict of biblical values or teachings, ask yourself, which approach is more merciful and go with that. Continue reading

See, love, and behave accordingly!

The Second Sunday of Advent, 2B, December 7, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 40:1-11 Cry out!
2 Peter 3:8-15a Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.
Mark 1:1-8 He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

O God of the prophets, may we have the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth – come when it may and cost what it will.

Every year at this time, the church gives us a new advent – a new beginning — a new season of longing to hear and respond to lessons of prophetic wisdom and calls for repentance writ large. These calls are not for personal repentance, but for national repentance, for corporate repentance, and for ecclesiastical – that is Church — repentance. And the good news is that this year is no exception! The most magnificent sign of this kind of prophetic action can be seen in the large numbers of people rising up in Boston and all around the country to protest the status quo of racism and injustice. It’s good news. People are watching and waking up and demonstrating anger and calling for change. Continue reading

Disclosing Compassion

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, 25A, October 26, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 20:1-4,7-9, 12-20 Do not fear.
Philippians 2:1-13 But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
Matthew 21:33-46 Listen to another parable.

O God of grace, may we have the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth – come when it may and cost what it will.

This morning in our reading from Deuteronomy, we heard the very last part of the Torah. Last weekend was the joyful Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah (simchat means rejoicing). On Simchat Torah, this portion of Deuteronomy is read in synagogues, followed by a reading of the first portion from Genesis. On Simchat Torah, as many people as possible ascend to the blessing of reading, rather than just the usual two or three readers. Afterwards, the congregations dances and sings. It’s the celebration of endings leading to new beginnings. Continue reading

Founding of This Blog

While our rector Pamela Werntz traveled on her 2013 sabbatical, we also had opportunities to explore Spirituality and the Arts at Emmanuel (thanks to the generosity of the Lilly Foundation). A collaboration with Lesley University’s Expressive Arts Therapy program seemed like a perfect means of enriching the church’s mission for using the arts as vehicle for healing and spiritual growth. On April 7, 2013, faculty from Lesley joined us for the service and offered a stimulating presentation about their program and ideas for working with Emmanuel.

In order to build upon this exciting beginning, a group of Lesley University faculty met with representatives from Emmanuel to discuss our future collaborations. Between these two meetings, the bombings at The Boston Marathon resulted in feelings of pain, loss, fear, and anger. The group decided its first event should involve the healing power of creativity in addressing these wounds, and we called it “When Words Are Not Enough.”  Over the years since then our Expressive Therapy Interns have recorded their thoughts about their experiences at Emmanuel in this blog.

Participants in "Words Are Not Enough" carry prayer flags to the Boston Marathon bombing memorial site in Copley Square.

The Rev. Susan Ackley, our Sabbatical Priest/Artist-in-Residence, and participants in “Words Are Not Enough” carry prayer flags down Newbury Street to the Boston Marathon bombing memorial site in Copley Square.