A Prayer for the New Year beginning on a Sunday

Technically speaking, Sunday is not the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is a Jewish observance marked by, among other things, resting from one’s labor on the last day of the week, from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

Many practices of the Jewish observance carry over to the celebration of the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the day of observing resurrection, including resting from one’s labor, community worship, time with family, sharing meals with family and friends, and taking time out to just be instead of continuing the constant pursuit of doing things.

As this new year begins on a Sunday, I’d like to share another idea from Judaism that I hope  to carry with me through this year and beyond.  It is called Neshemah Yeterah.  It means having an extra or second soul for the Sabbath.  What a great idea.

Jews believe that on the Sabbath we are given an extra soul-the Neshemah Yeterah, or Sabbath soul-which enables us to more fully appreciate and enjoy the blessings of our life and the fruits of our labors. With this extra soul, like God on the Sabbath we, too, are more  able to pause, and see how it is good.  – Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest

I have never been in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions. However, as I enter this year I do want to be more conscious to take my Sabbath Soul with me into the week more often so that I am better able to savor things I have been given and the blessings that are before me. Especially when caught up in the darknesses of self-doubt, anxiety, and depression I hope to bring my second soul with me to remind me to rest and look for where it is good.

May your second soul walk more often with you this year, its presence constantly whispering in your ear, “It’s gonna be O.K., holy one.”

A New Year’s Wish for My Church

This year I want my denomination, Unitarian Universalism, to act more like Portlandia and less like some of the characters satirized on Portlandia.  I realized this while reading the recent issue of the New Yorker.  Margaret Talbot reviews the first season of the show and looks forward to the second by looking at some of her favorite and some of the show’s signature sketches.

I love Portlandia.  It’s got a sense of humor.  It’s intimately in touch with American culture and the American landscape post baby-boom, post-1960’s and post Viet-Nam.  It incorporates contemporary music.  And yet, you know it also values much of the things it ‘t  lampoons.  The show itself doesn’t think itself so important or its subject matter so sacrosanct that it ioses perspective.

This isn’t to say I want church to be a joke, a comedy.  Far from it.  Let’ at the sketch of the foodies in the restaurant.  The foodies not only want to eat local and organic, but they want to make sure the free range