Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Day of Atonement

Today is Yom Kippur. It actually began last night at sunset but I'm late getting this post done. Yom Kippur is considered the most important holy day in the Jewish calendar and is the culmination of the week following Rosh Hashana, covered in a previous post. It is the final day for Jews repent of the sins committed the previous year against God and their fellow humans.

Yom Kippur is a day of repentance and confession and one hopes, forgiveness. God seals his verdict in the books where he's been keeping track.

I won't go into great detail because I think there are more informative sites you can research if you are interested. I found a site that explains the use of the prayer shawl and I strongly recommend watching the video. It was fascinating to learn how this is worn.

Learning about these Holy Days is quite interesting. I don't know if it is because I tend to like rituals and how they relate to things or if it is just my innate curiosity. I'm a Christian and of course, we read about them in the Bible and hear about them in Sunday School and church services but those times often don't include details of what goes on, the purpose of the day, and when they're celebrated according to our calendar. Most calendars have the dates posted but to be honest, I've never really paid much attention. So, I'm trying to take them as they come and read up on them.

I can't tell you why it suddenly seems important but it does. Perhaps because as Christians we take our roots for granted, never remembering that who we are as Christians began very long ago with a band of shepherds. Not the ones in the New Testament, the ones who packed their goods and left the land of Ur. Abraham birthed more than the Jewish nation. He pointed the way to the cross and our redemption story is interwoven with the history of the Jews. We should make an effort to learn more about these days that figured so heavily throughout their history and the New Testament.

And if you think Christians are too defensive of the Jews and Israel, well, you shouldn't be surprised. We see them as God's chosen and in essence, we view them as our family.

If you want to learn more about this Holy Day, check this website.

You can learn more about other holidays as well.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Cleaning House

When I was growing up, Mama used to pray a lot and I'd hear her many times. She prayed for all of us and even for our animals if they were sick. From somewhere, and I think it was her, I learned about praying for every room in your house.

Now, I want to be clear here. This is not like what you see on television where a person is performing an ancient ritual of cleansing burning sage and other herbs. I believe cleansing rituals have been around probably longer than formal religion. Even the Hebrews practiced burning incense in the temple and it was considered a "sweet savour to the Lord" and they probably did the same in their homes. Although, I can't be sure about the homes it wouldn't surprise me.

People have always, forever believed that evil could inhibit the space they lived in, whether it be caves, grass huts, or frame houses. I am certain many religions practiced some kind of cleansing rituals to protect themselves and their loved ones. Christians pray for the same reason other faiths pray, and yes, most "religion", whatever or whoever it is based on, have some kind of prayer or incantations. That is a common feature. So, it isn't surprising to me that cleansing rituals cross cultural and religious lines.

We've been seeing some problems with Sarah lately that just seemed too far off the chart for her and it has us stymied on how to deal with it.  Of course, I pray for her. I pray for my own children, too, even now. However, the issues that began to present themselves were of such concern I felt that prayer wasn't enough. She had developed such a negative spirit it was affecting everything from school work, behavior to emotional feelings. Is there ever a time prayer wasn't enough? Jesus thought so. He said so in Matthew 17:21.

So, I decided to do something I've only done a few times in my life but that I learned as a child. I "swept" the house. The first time I remember doing it I used an actual broom. I started in the room that was farthest from the exit doors of my house and began praying, using the broom in sweeping motions while I ordered every unclean spirit, every bad attitude, and every negative emotion from the room. I moved through the whole house, ending up sweeping it all out the door.

A few years ago, I was having some problems and I talked to a minister about it and he advised me to anoint my windows and doors with oil. Of course, we anoint people with oil when we pray for them in church because the scripture instructs us to do that. In fact, I prefer that they do that rather than just laying hands on me. Anyway, I followed his instructions and anointed my windows and doors and followed with prayer similar to what I did with the broom.

This week, I felt that I needed to sweep the house again, I didn't do it right away. Something kept telling me that it would help with our situation. It took me two days to actually follow through. Well, I got a bottle of olive oil and started in Sarah's room. I anointed the windows first and ordered every window sealed against any spirit not of God. I "flushed" the room clear through the door and then, sealed the door with the oil. I moved through every room, sealing windows first then doors. When I reached the last exit door of the house, I opened the door and ushered out anything negative or evil that had made it that far and then, I sealed the last door with oil. I even did the garage.

When Sarah came home that evening, she was still a bit "dark". She just didn't care about anything. When a child starts uttering "I don't care" about serious things, there is a problem that spanking and grounding won't cure. But I did notice a few minutes after getting home, she seemed to get in a better mood. By the next day, home behavior was much more relaxed, less arguing, less resistance to instructions, more friendly. She voluntarily read and did things that didn't require her Ipad. Last night, she got the cane I have to use on occasion, put on my glasses and began imitating me. It was hysterical and we were laughing and having a wonderful time. Two days before I couldn't get a civil word out of her.

I've been praying the same way for my property ever since I've been in this house. I pray a spiritual fence around the property and seal it off. I don't know why I started doing it but I've always done it. I've only done the house twice because I've only felt the need for it twice. I suspect I may do it more often for a while.

This may all seem foolish to you and hokey religion. Just don't tell me it didn't work. She's still struggling with some things and since life is a daily struggle I am sure it will require more work. However, I'm thankful God doesn't take the foolish things lightly. That some ancient rituals are not out of date. Remember Jesus, purging the temple? He physically took a whip and went through the temple court and tossed everything he found abhorrent out, including people and animals. I just used his method in the spiritual world, rather than the physical. That's what cleansing is, removing every dirty thing from your realm and restoring order to it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Rosh Hashana Reviewed

In May, I went through files of my college writing, mostly to decide what to keep and what to toss. I ran across my freshman English 101 journal. I hated that journal but that's another story.

The journal was mandatory and so a lot of it is drivel - and tediously boring - just to meet the requirement. Still, as with all writing, you run across some hidden gems. This post, in my opinion, is one such gem. I post it here as it was written but with editing. Believe me, it was necessary.

Rosh Hashanah

I spoke with the Rabbi from the local temple about Rosh Hashanah. I was surprised and impressed by what I learned.

Rosh Hashana means New Year. It is a celebration of the creation of the world and is celebrated In Temple by prayer and praising God for the creation. 

The holiday also marks the beginning of the Penitential Week. The week following Rosh Hashanah is spent in reflection of and repentance for the sins of the past year. This would be a time for prayer and good deeds.

In Israel, the holiday is celebrated for one day. In much of the rest of the world, it is celebrated for two days. The holiday ends at Yom Kipper. This is a day of fasting from sunset to sunset, and most of the time is spent in prayer for forgiveness for personal and community sins.

There is a story told about these two holidays. It is said that God writes in a book the names of those who are going to live and those who are going to die. The individual has the week to reflect and repent. After Yom Kipper, the book is closed and sealed until the next year. 

The two holidays are considered the high point of the spiritual year for Jews.
-- October 4, 1989

When Is Rosh Hashanah

This year Rosh Hashana begins at sunset on Sunday, September 9 and ends at sunset Monday, September 10. Yom Kipper begins the following week. 

Summing it Up

Rereading this journal entry, I'm again impressed by this holiday. I understand why it would be the high point of a spiritual journey. In fact, the whole process appeals to me for some reason. I'm a Christian and not Jewish. However, there is a spiritual component to this particular holiday that I feel a connection to that I like. 

Imagine this. What if the whole world took a day to praise God for the creation, which includes humanity, and the following week spent time to ask forgiveness for our personal sins and those of every community? Can you even grasp the impact that would have on the planet? The world would be turned upside down. 

Honestly, it isn't even about being Jewish or Christian. The whole thing feels primal to me as if it is ingrained in my DNA to praise God for the creation. I frequently find myself doing just that. I can be sitting in a park or my backyard, marveling at the beauty that surrounds me. I start thanking God for this magnificent planet and the blessing of it. I usually begin to feel that I'm unworthy of such a gift and ask God to forgive me and help me be a better steward of his creation. It seems natural to do this.

I haven't studied much about Jewish holidays in any real sense and I think the reason for my journal entry was the topic was probably suggested by the professor. I think Jewish holidays float on our calendar so I suspect the date varies year to year. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad I found it again.