Tonight we will enter Yom Kippur. With Kol Nidre we will confess to each other that we all are "transgressors” – in Hebrew “avaryonim,” from the same root as “the cross-over people, Ivrim, Hebrews.” – And we will give each other permission to pray with transgressors, to reach to become a more holy community. Not utterly pure – for next year we will need to say and do it all again.
For months I have kept writing that we – Americans and all Humanity – are standing at the edge of the Red Sea, with Pharaoh’s horse-chariots behind us and the Unknown before us. No one can know whether the Sea will split, and there are plenty of us who are willing to be safe slaves to Pharaoh, with occasional perks of onions and garlic. But there seem to be more of us ready to move forward.
The Texas Path: if you fear the power of the young, the black, the Latinx, then try to stop them from voting. If you fear the independence of women, subject them to Taliban-like vigilantes and Stasi informers. If you are shaken by storms that freeze your people and shatter the energy-system built on burning fossil fuels, deny they have anything to do with climate crisis and global scorching and reward the failed utility system with more money in time of emergency and double down on gas and oil.
California stumbles its way forward. imto the Sea. More people who find economic and structural barriers to voting? Than mail out ballots to every registered votes, provide them drop-off boxes, register more to be able to vote. The State starts to burn? Redouble efforts to address climate crisis. Stumbling, yes. Not yet really facing homelessness, for example. But stumbling toward Transformation.
Would it be like to make Yom Kippur our vision –- the reverse of Texas, beyond California?
It would mean to carry into streets and voting booths and schools and police stations and vaccination centers and banks, into Reality, the words we are taught to read on Yom Kipput, from the Prophet Isaiah:
I dwell on high, in holiness,
And therefore with the lowly and humiliated,
To breathe new breath into the humble,
To give new heart to the broken-hearted.
For your sin of greed
Through My Hurricane of Breath YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh
I smashed you.
Worse: I hid My face, withheld My Breath.
Yet I will not do battle against you forever,
I will not be angry with you forever.
From Me comes the breath that floats out to make all worlds.
I breathe the breath of life, I am the Breath of Life.
When you wander off the path as your own heart,
wayward, takes you.
I see the path you need —— and I will heal you.
I will guide and comfort you
With words of courage and of consolation
For those who mourn among you.
Peace, peace … shalom, shalom!… to those who are far and near,
Says the Breath-of-Life —-
And I will heal you.
But the wicked who make the choice
Of doing evil
are like a troubled sea
Which cannot rest,
Whose waters toss up mire and mud.
There is no peace, said my God,
For the wicked.
Cry out aloud, don’t hold back,
Lift up your voice like the shofar!
Tell My people what they are doing wrong,
Tell those who call themselves the “House of Jacob” their misdeeds.
For day after day they go out searching for Me,
They take some kind of pleasure in getting to know My ways —-
As if they were a people that actually did righteous deeds
And never ignored the just rulings of their God.
They keep asking Me for the rules of justice
As if they would take delight in being close to God.
They say: “Why is it that we have fasted, and You don’t see our suffering?
We press down our egos —- but You don’t pay attention!”
Look! On the very day you fast, you keep scrabbling for wealth;
On the very day you fast, you keep oppressing all your workers.
Look! You fast in strife and contention.
You strike with a wicked fist.
You are not fasting today in such a way
As to make your voices heard on high.
Is that the kind of fast that I desire?
Is that really a day for people to “press down their egos”?
Am I commanding you to droop your heads like bulrushes
And lie around in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast day,
The kind of day that the God of the Burning Bush would wish?
This is the kind of fast that I desire:
Unlock the hand-cuffs put on by wicked power!
Untie the ropes of the yoke!
Let the oppressed go free,
And break off every yoke!
Share your bread with the hungry.
Bring the poor, the outcasts, to your homes.
When you see them naked, clothe them;
They are your flesh and blood;
Don’t hide yourself from them!
Then your light will burst through like the dawn;
Then when you need healing it will spring up quickly;
Then your own righteousness will march ahead to guard you.
And a radiance from YHWH will reach out behind to guard you.
Then, when you cry out,
YHWH/ the InterBreath of Life will answer;
Then, when you call, God will say: “Here I am!”
There is a saying---
Tzom kal -- May your fast be easy.
I bless us all, rather:
May our fast be profound,
deep in our awareness.