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November 17, 2021 in Rabbi Deborah Megdal, Reflections Off the Bimah
We are excitedly preparing for Interfaith Thanksgiving this Tuesday, November 23, 7:30pm, at Bethesda United Methodist Church (BUMC). The evening will be filled with blessings of gratitude, teaching, and music.
Last month, Rabbi Harris and I had the pleasure of meeting Rev. Dr. HiRho Park, the new Lead Pastor at BUMC. She is a warm and thoughtful leader, and an elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, United Methodist Church. She teaches and publishes widely, encouraging intercultural competence, embracing racial and ethnic diversity, and empowering women’s leadership in the Church. I look forward to learning with her and leading alongside her as fellow Bethesda clergy.
I’ve also discovered the BUMC website, https://www.washmorefeet.org, the most memorable and meaningful domain name of any house of worship that I have visited! As I understand, foot washing is a custom that represents the value of humility. Many Christians practice foot washing to emulate the humility of Jesus, who is reported to have washed the feet of his disciples on the night before his crucifixion.
(I cannot help but wonder about an alternative domain name for Beth El that would so perfectly combine a core value and a sense of whimsy. Any ideas? Feel free to post in the comments.)
In the middle of my fourth month at Beth El, I take seriously my own charge towards humility. Before each holiday or event, part of my preparation is beginning to steep myself in our shul’s history. I talk to our team of clergy, staff, and lay leaders. I continue to invite storytelling, I ask lots of questions, and I watch recordings from previous years.
Last year, at the first Thanksgiving service conducted during the pandemic, Reverend Jenny Cannon called on us to practice “doing the hard and the holy work of caring for each other and of caring for God’s world, choosing our vocation of justice and mercy and compassion over self-preservation and self-righteousness and ridicule — every day, choosing that, again and again, not just when we are feeling especially generous.”
She reflected that she had seen a pattern of some people being less than generous during the pandemic, and at the same time, she has also seen “extraordinary acts of courage, of creativity, and of perseverance as well…. We humans are a mix of both at any given moment, aren’t we?”
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s come together to celebrate in friendship and gratitude.
This year, I will share a message on “Seeing God’s Face in Each Other”. We will study a psalm that begins as a personal lament and transforms into a gorgeous psalm of gratitude. “Let me sing to God, for God has been good to me.”
Please join us in person at BUMC or online through the livestream: https://www.bethelmc.org/events/thanksgiving/
Thanksgiving blessings to all.