Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week of Thanksgiving: Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Sunday night, in the pouring rain, I drove up Providence Road to a place I'd never been before: Temple Israel at Shalom Park.
A week previous I got an e-mail asking for people to be a choir participating in an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The rehearsals and performance will be held, this year, at a Conservative synagogue.
That is one bandwagon I jumped right on. Not only that, but I decided to drag our local sister missionaries with me--just for effect. Any excuse to visit a new house of worship is something I'm up for. Not to mention how fun it sounded to sing with people from lots of religions. We Mormons have our Tabernacle Choir, but we will never have the soul of a good, Southern Baptist choir.
I got there right on time, and entered the beautiful building, feeling a little unsure. I saw the stacks of kippot for the men, but reassured myself that they were optional for women, before entering the synagogue.
A group of people sat in the folding chairs, some sitting in little clusters, some sitting alone. Taking a deep breath, I marched down the aisle and introduced myself to a lady sitting by herself. We began to warm up.
Our music directors include a Jewish Cantor, a Universalist Unitarian Music Minister, a music minister from Friendship Baptist Church, and the music pastor at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, although he is actually Episcopalian. The director from the Baptist congregation is so fun to watch, he jumps up and down all over the stage, which inevitably sends his kippah flying from his head. At which point the most delightful little Jewish lady trots up to the stand in the middle of the song and plunks it back on his head. Repeatedly. And neither of them even miss a beat.
Meanwhile, the Unitarians are crossing out every referal to "mankind" and urging us all to substitute the word for "humankind" so that we're gender inclusive.
At about which point the man from St. Gabriel's starts railing on us for being even slower than the speed of sound and begging us to KEEP UP!!!!
I find myself grinning and laughing and just singing my heart out. My favorite are, of course, the songs in Hebrew, with their lilting melodies and softly accented words.
At the end of the first practice, the music pastors all stood on the stand together. They talked about how they first started meeting over 6 months ago. And how they learned that you haven't learned to live in peace with your neighbors of a different faith until you've sat down and discussed and disagreed and been uncomfortable with each other. Only when you've faced your differences, can you find real friendship and peace. I thought that was beautifully profound.
So, Shalom. Have peace.


  1. That is so cool. I wish I could have done it with you.
    I also wish I could sing.

  2. I have been delighted to read through your blog this evening. what you say is true- and I'm thankful you have shared with us- thoughts, feelings, experiences. I am so proud of you for the choir- in someone else's post about their choir experience they are writing that there were Mormons who came to sing! Opa!