Last week I shared our experiences at Ruach Israel of first day Rosh Hashanah services as a springboard to recognizing the uncountable ways God is in our lives. As if to punctuate the point, our Yom Kippur services were a truly larger than life example of that reality, not only in the ways you might think . . .
For once, I was not intricately involved behind the scenes in the planning. Having been so for countless years in the past, I do know that preparation and implementation of our High Holy Days services take hours. There are so many moving parts I won’t even try to list them. For these services, those involved spend extra hours. There are unique items to prepare, such as special melodies for much of the liturgy, instructions and handouts. Since these are the holiest of days, those involved also work to make these services unusually uplifting for our community and guests. To do so there are extra steps taken in the planning in order to elevate the level of our worship for such special services.
First, our Community Coordinator Shayna was ill. Not only is her list a mile long for the behind the scene preparation and coordination, but she was also to be one of our leaders, one whose portions of reading take hours to prepare since the HH melodies are different than the regular versions. On Kol Nidre evening our gifted violinist and singer Rachel was able to provide beautiful music though her gifted pianist husband Kyle had taken ill. By Monday both were sick. Even Sid was ill so the Cohanim blessing had to suffice with just me. How could worship go on that would be moving and meaningful without such key people there, not to mention all the music not printed, parts of the service not assigned, music slides not made, even the expected people not there to lead?
Was it mere coincidence that on this day of all days, the holiest of the year, so many snafus? So many inabilities to do our preparations and lack of key people? Not that God wants bad things for us. To the contrary, he is our Abba, our father, leading us and disciplining us in a good way to be better, to walk closer with Him, to empty ourselves in the deepest way on this day of days, to grow in Him.
I was there. Services were amazing, even more amazing given my knowing that so many “plans” had not happened. I actually don’t think guests even knew of the many gaps in the team. How could this be???
As Raina, Joanna, and Cheryl began the worship music, I knew HaShem, the Master Planner, had our backs, once again. And oh, He did not disappoint. The beauty of the blend of voices lifted our spirits, inviting in the Ruach. As a music group leader I know one does not just show up to provide the worship music, without practice, especially when the group singing was not a group! Yet, pun intended, they did not skip a beat, nor was the absence of song slides a hurdle whether we could join in by knowing the words or just close our eyes and listen.
How did Dave Nichol just step in for Shayna as a reader of the pages and pages of liturgy? Even if every note wasn’t what days of preparation would have created, knowing this made his readings perhaps even more moving. It was real. It was earnest. It was sacrificial. It represented us as imperfect beings, reminding us why we were there on that Day of Atonement.
My thoughts immediately went to God. He always has our backs. He is faithful, everpresent, our rock. He uplifts us when we are unable to do so on our own. We were reminded that Yeshua meets us in our most vulnerable moments, in our challenges. He walks with us, uplifting us to Him.
Then my thoughts went to community. Wow! What a place. I honestly don’t think any visitor even noticed any difference. The service, the entire day beginning to end, was seamless, beautiful, spirit led and filled. Of course there was a difference. Yet the way the day’s services went were beautiful, hamash, real, engaging, worshipful, profound perhaps in an even deeper way. They showed a love of each other, a deep connection with each other, that brought us into that holy space so intimately. We are such an amazing family.
Finally my thoughts went to each of us as individuals. To be so loved, so Divinely loved, that our hearts could feel His Presence no matter what. We could shed our concerns about all the glitches and just engage in the day’s worship focusing on Him. Any last minute changes or omissions weren’t even noticed as we individually could feel the Ruach, His Presence with us as we prayed, sang, studied, fasted, lifted each other up feeling His Love through those interactions. We each walked with Him so closely that day. Our hearts were filled with His Love of each of us.
So often what we think of as bad at the time turns out to be our best moments in life. And so it was.
Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement. These Days of Awe. What an opportunity to reconnect with our Creator and stay encouraged to live that way every day.
Eyes on Him.