Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"It Is Life that Is Going On"

This week I was privileged to attend my first Bris, a religious ceremony through which male babies are welcomed into the Jewish people. According to Jewish tradition, it is a parent's obligation to circumcise a son according to God's covenant with Abraham, and offer a threefold blessing for the child: a life enriched by Torah, the wedding canopy, and good deeds.

It was a beautiful ceremony with a deep sense of history and family. To begin, the father explained that their son was named after his maternal great grandfather, no longer living, and their hopes that this little one would have some of those same wonderful character traits. Then the child was passed from his mother to his grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and great grandmothers, each in turn, with a blessing and picture. After the ceremony, the baby boy was held by his great grandfather as we were reminded that the same words of prayer and blessing have been spoken over each new life for generations and centuries past. Finally, the baby was placed in his grandfather's lap and given his Hebrew name and blessing, a wonderful and touching moment.

Reflecting on the ceremony, I thought about how important it is for our children to know that they are part of a larger story, a family story and a faith story. I'm not sure how well we do as Christians getting that truth across to our little ones. Perhaps we could do better. I was also reminded of these words from Frederick Buechner:
a religious ritual through which male babies are formally welcomed into the Jewish people. According to Jewish tradition, it is a parent’s obligation to circumcise a son and offer a threefold blessing for the child: a life enriched by Torah, the wedding canopy (chuppah), and good deeds. - See more at: http://www.reformjudaism.org/brit-milah-circumcision-ritual?gclid=CLu8so31kccCFYiPHwod4cQPqw#sthash.3RZTyDPD.dpuf
a religious ritual through which male babies are formally welcomed into the Jewish people. According to Jewish tradition, it is a parent’s obligation to circumcise a son and offer a threefold blessing for the child: a life enriched by Torah, the wedding canopy (chuppah), and good deeds. - See more at: http://www.reformjudaism.org/brit-milah-circumcision-ritual?gclid=CLu8so31kccCFYiPHwod4cQPqw#sthash.3RZTyDPD.dpuf

A religious observance can be a wedding, a christening, a Memorial Day service, a bar mitzvah, or anything like that you might be apt to think of. There are lots of things going on at them. There are lots of things you can learn from them if you're in a receptive state of mind. The word "observance" itself suggests what is perhaps the most important thing about them.

A man and a woman are getting married. A child is being given a name. A war is being remembered and many deaths. A boy is coming of age.

It is life that is going on. It is always going on, and it is always precious. It is God that is going on. It is you who are there that is going on.

As Henry James advised writers, be one on whom nothing is lost.

OBSERVE! There are few things as important, as religious, as that.

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