The Chaplains Office has been reveling in the richness of religious thought and practice this month. We continue to grow and learn of ways we can strengthen the faith of our diverse community. Because we are not a congregation but a community we seek to learn from one another; to encourage our own faith to flourish. Thus, we are led to lives of heightened respect for one another while honoring our own traditions with integrity.
To that end, The Chaplains Office offered two worship services at Thanksgiving. One Service of Vespers on Thanksgiving Sunday was a Christian Service which drew from Christian scriptures and hymnody. The other was an interfaith service held the day before Thanksgiving Day to lift up our national holiday and drew from Hebrew Scriptures as a primary text; both shared by Christians of various denominations and Jewish people of various denominations as well.
During Advent and Christmas we have traveled the journey of Mary and Joseph each Sunday with a musical emphasis including candle-lighting and sung responses from the liturgical traditions with reflections and hymnody from the Baptist tradition as a lessons and carols Vesper service. Our glorious last Sunday of Advent offered us the experience of Corelli’s Christmas Concerto by the String Ensemble. And Christmas Eve will be ushered in with the message of peace from Valter Sorrentino, our Chaplain Intern from Brazil.
Hanukkah is commemorated by the traditional prayers and blessings said each night with the candle-lighting to remind us of the liberation of the Jewish people. Lasting eight days, we remember the rededication of the Temple in 165 BC by the Maccabees after its desecration by the Syrians. It is marked by the successive kindling of eight lights. The symbolism is the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality. The lighting of the Menorah is the centerpiece of these days also marked by joy and family fun.
Then at the close of the year, the community at Lakewood begins on December 31st with a quiet Prayer Service, to help us all to let go of the past that hurts and bring those new lessons forward into 2015 so that we may move more tenderly into the New Year.
Submitted by: Chaplain Ginna Minasian Dalton