This weekend my parish is hosting its annual Fall Festival. Like any major event, there is a flutter of activity and anxiety about making the event a success – both for the tangible results of raising money for the parish and our outreach efforts, but also for the satisfaction of seeing months of labor come to fulfilling fruition. Consequently, the St. Margaret’s campus is a bit different this week. There are many more people on the campus, a lot more activity around the church, and the grounds have been beautifully transformed as we prepare for our guests.
In the midst of all this flurry comes Yom Kippur. The average church might not notice Yom Kippur, but St. Margaret’s is blessed to be neighbors with a wonderful synagogue. We offer up our parking lot for their congregants this day, and the neighborhood is transformed with people walking to worship. On this overcast day, I am grateful for the pause that our Jewish brothers and sisters are giving me. On this day that our brothers and sisters fast, pray, and confess their sins, I am reminded of my own need to root myself in devotion to God, even when it feels like there is no time. My brothers and sisters, simply by living out their faith, are encouraging me this day to take a break from all the flurry of life to remember why I have life, and why that life is so abundant.
Tonight, I am grateful for the opportunity to take a similar pause with my faith community. Tonight we begin a six-week series focused on hunger. Even in Plainview, New York, there are people who struggle with hunger. And so we are gathering together to prayerfully reflect on scripture, to educate ourselves on the complexities of hunger, and to inspire ourselves to live out Jesus’ call to feed the hungry. As I was preparing to teach tonight’s session, I began to wonder whether this week was a good week to start an education series, given all our stress and anxiety about the Fall Festival. But eventually, I came to see that this is just what we need before this event. Not only does taking this hour help us to get out of our own stress and think about a very different imminent stress that our neighbors face everyday. Focusing on hunger tonight can give us the motivation we need to raise as much money as we can to help combat hunger here on Long Island. I am thinking of tonight’s class as a water-break for the soul in a marathon of running this week. I am looking forward to the refreshment!