Friday, August 17, 2012

What God demands of us - from remarks at the annual meeting of CAFe', Communities in Action and Faith, in Las Cruces, NM - August 15, 2012

 Each Sabbath, we in the Jewish tradition read a predetermined section from the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.   In last week’s reading, these words from Deuteronomy Chapter 10 leaped out at me so much that I had to choose them to present to the congregation during our worship:   “And now….what does the Eternal your God demand of you?  Only this: to revere the Eternal your God, to walk only in divine paths, to serve the Eternal your God with all your heart and soul…for the Eternal your God is God supreme and Lord supreme, the great, mighty and the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe, but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing food and clothing.  You too must befriend the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”  And in this coming Sabbath’s reading from Deuteronomy 15, there is this challenge: “If there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kin.  Rather you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient to meet the need.”    The United States of America cannot be a country full of people with hardened hearts and closed hands.  If we are to be like God, we must be impartial, fair and just.  We must feel a responsibility to the most vulnerable members of our society who need our support.     I told my congregants last Saturday morning that I look for candidates for public office that I would support to find a way – whether through the public or private sector, or both – to show a commitment to practicing these biblical teachings of extending an open hand and allowing an open heart to lead to legislative compromise and powerful programs that will create the safety net we need to make our communities stronger and to restore hope.   We may sometimes forget that the biblical view is that all that we have is but lent to us during our lives, so that we should remember to share with others.   This is what I believe God demands of us individually and together.  

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