All of Israel calls it Rosh Hashanah, and we wish each other a happy New Year… but as I’ve shared before, the holiday is really called the Feast of Trumpets, and all we know is to have a holy convocation and then there is the trumpet call…
Still, in Israel, it marks a New Year and is surrounded with celebration and everyone wishing each other a happy and sweet new year. For sure, more than ever we need it.
I am blessed. Friends helped me put a small utility closet together, and now, only three boxes remain to be unpacked from my move. I now know where everything is (until I forget again). Been catching up on my correspondence, had a great visit with a friend last evening, shopping today, straightening up. New storage boxes for easy access to my piano music, practicing a song to sing when I go away with my congregation for Rosh Hashanah… and a new day to give thanks to God.
But sadly, not everything is new. Israel remains in the news and there are wars and rumors of war… talk is that people should start stocking up after Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)… and I had an interesting talk with a doctor at work.
He was following up my refusal to continue editing the multi-fetal reduction paper. He was not angry, but did want to make sure I understood the huge gray issues involved, and shared about 10 babies, all products of triplets; the pregnancies all were refused a reduction and these babies are all very ill and have questionable life expectancies. What should I do? I told him I didn’t know. The issue is deeper than just the “fetal reduction” but the effort to do anything in order to conceive. He agreed… as we continued to discuss abortion he asked me if I thought he liked having to deal with these things. He then related the following, applying it to fetal reduction:
The Rambam (whom Rambam hospital was named after) once asked the question, ‘two people are in the desert with a bottle of water. The water is enough for only one person to survive; if they share, both will die. The strongest person must kill the weaker and take the water to assure his own survival.’
I had not heard this before and it took my breath away. Finally, I answered, “But where is God in this equation?”
He was silent for a long moment, and then answered with a resigned voice, “God is not a part of the equation.”
I replied, “Then do you understand? For me, God is part of every equation.”
He had no response and we got to work.
Last night I visited a Jewish friend and we talked about everything… including the fate of our people. My friend believes in God, but not in Jesus. At a certain point she shared, referring to our Jewish nation and people “We do everything wrong, if only we’d do what we are supposed, but it seems like we are determined to do everything we can to destroy ourselves.”
And then this morning, I was reading in Jeremiah chapters 26-28. I had to reread it a few times to take it in, and I as I read and reread, it all clicked. There is nothing new. Nothing has changed. We still hear what we want to hear… God gave a message of warning and compassion to Jeremiah, to warn the people and nation to repent, to cease from their evil ways, injustice, abuses, and idolatry. If they did, God would turn the judgment away and they would not be exiled to Babylon. But if the people would not repent, the exile was certainly going to happen.
Instead of hearing a message of mercy, the people wanted to kill Jeremiah because he predicted the fall of Jerusalem. They completely ignored the call to repentance, to relationship with God and each other in justice and righteousness. It was as though they were determined to destroy themselves.
As we face a New Year, will there be a new spirit of repentance and reaching out to God, not just here in Israel, but wherever people call on the name of God? Oh may God’s mercy fall on this planet and give us just a little bit longer to serve Him, give glory to Him, turn to Him.
As I consider wars, rumors of wars, and upcoming elections, I realize more deeply than ever, we need a heart that hungers and thirsts after the One True God. He is our only hope.
Whether or not you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, may your days and years be filled with His grace, peace, and hope.