October 07, 2003

A Time for Turning (On Forgiveness)

Opening Words:
Adapted from Robert French Leavens

It is a sacred and beautiful custom which brings us together:
To face our ideals,
To remember loved ones in their absence,
To give thanks, to make confession,
To offer forgiveness and to be forgiven,
To be enlightened and to be strengthened.
Through this quiet hour together breathes
The reverence of ages,
The cathedral of mystery.
Three unseen guests attend,
Faith, hope, and love,
Let our hearts prepare them a place among us.


We are living in the Days of Awe. This time—between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—is the time in the Jewish tradition when there is a chance to change the future. These days in between the beginning of the Jewish New Year and end of the High Holy Days are a threshold time—a time of opportunity and choice—where it is possible to consciously and conscientiously change. In these days we have a chance to affect the outcome of our own lives and of the world around us. It is a time for turning…a time for changes outside and in…and it is an awesome time.
I am fascinated by the Days of Awe. I am fascinated by their insistence that human beings can change, can turn around, and can begin again. I am also fascinated by the opportunity, during these High Holy Days, for the community to do this work together. UU Minister Barbara Wells, points out:
Practicing Jews celebrate many of their religious rituals in the home. The Sabbath meal, the reading of the Torah, even praying can and do happen as frequently in the home as in the synagogue or Temple. Yet on the High Holy Days, people flock to be with others, in the midst of a congregation. Why is that? I think it is because there is something in the human spirit that needs to be in community when dealing with powerful religious needs.

To admit to our humanness, our imperfection is a powerful, even religious need.

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