Oct 22, 2023
“Lord you have been our refuge from one generation to another" (Ps. 90).
The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young, Dean
Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA 2D74
21 Pentecost (Proper 24A) 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Eucharist Sunday 22 October 2023
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
1. Where is God hidden? Beth and Jonathan Singer, the senior rabbis at Temple Emmanuel feel like big siblings to me. This is the ninth year we have been friends and I admire them very much. On Thursday for lunch they convened a group of 13 religious leaders (half Jewish and half not Jewish) to talk about the recent violence in the Middle East. They opened the conversation by sharing their deep concern for the people who live in Gaza, and their support for a two state solution to the diplomatic crisis.
They also talked about the terrible pain they are feeling, about friends with family members who are being held hostage in tunnels under the ground. I heard about many funerals, some for young people. Beth said that she hoped that together we would really speak from the heart, even if this lead us into uncomfortable places.
All the Jewish leaders spoke, then most of the others except me. Jonathan said, “what do you have to say Malcolm?” Frankly I did not want to say anything. I have never been to the Middle East and did not feel I had much to add. It is difficult to talk about how horrifying and inhumane the terrorist attacks by Hamas are and yet at the same time to recognize that the situation for ordinary people in Gaza seems impossible. I told them that our community is connected to Jewish people and Palestinians too, that every day we pray for peace, that we long for peace.
This seemed to understandably upset one of the other rabbis who I don’t know as well. She said that peace is not enough. After the terrible violence, after the innocent people who have been murdered, something has to be done immediately to make things right. I think all of us felt the tension, the anger and despair, as she emphatically said that prayers are not enough. We say that here too – when we talk about the epidemic of gun violence in America.
It felt like we had moved far away from the Hebrew prayer of blessing before the meal. God is not just hidden in violence and inhumanity. God can seem hidden to us in our personal pain and fear, and in our humiliation when we have said the wrong thing.