Thursday, September 13, 2018


     In my first reflection I talked more about Congregational vision. I think it is just as important for each of us to have a personal vision for our lives. Most job interviews ask a standard question, where do you see yourself in five years. Most people really don’t know how to answer that question. The truth is it is a false question because no one really knows where they will be in five years. It is asked to see how you will react to it, to understand your vision for your life. I would usually tell people to answer, I would hope to have opportunities to grow and learn new skills, and add value to the organization. 
      I think that is probably a good vision for anyone in general. To grow and learn new skills and add value to the world.  The farther out we look for our vision the harder it can be to discern. I think its good to periodically reflect on how we envision our future.Tonight is the first night of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah.  Rosh HaShanah is the beginning of the The Jewish High Holy Days which will end in 10 days with the holiday Yom Kippur. As I look back over my years of sermons, I note that I have on more then one occasion preached about Yom Kippur the day of atonement, but have never talked about Rosh Hashanah. That probably says something about me.
      Religiously Rosh Hashanah is believed to be the anniversary of the day that Adam and Eve were created by God. Historians believe culturally it was set at this time because it was the beginning of the sowing and harvest season in the Middle east. It was a way for Jews to set themselves apart from the ancient Greeks and Romans who set their new year later in the spring.  It was not until 45 bc that the Romans changed the New Year to January 1st.  Being raised in the Jewish faith, this is one time of year I intentionally stop to reflect upon the upcoming year.  My Buddhist training has taught me not to become attached to hoped for outcomes. But that should not prevent us from working towards hoped for outcomes.  
     The key to creating a vision is to determine the why. Why do we hope for a specific outcome. If the why is strong enough it is easier to find a way to make that vision a reality.  And with reflection we learn to be open to changing our vision. When I was young I had no vision I was going to be a minister. And later in life when I first decided to become a minister. I had no idea my journey would take me to Iowa. 
I think it is important in thinking about our vision to start with determining what our values are.
Not what values we are taught or raised up to believe.
Not what values we hope we will have one day.
But day in and day out what is it that you value by your actions.
By consciously doing this we realize that over time our values have changed.
And by consciously discerning this we can choose a new vision for ourselves. 

As Rabbi Howard Berman says
“Rosh Hashanah proclaims Judaism’s revolutionary teaching that history is not cyclical and static—as other ancient cultures believed—but rather, that human experience is dynamic and evolutionary—always progressing toward new heights and greater revelations of Divine truth. For each of us, personally, this means that we need not be bound by the limitations, patterns and regrets of the past… but rather, that there is always an opportunity to make a fresh start, and begin anew.”

     And so I encourage you to reflect on what patterns have been unhealthy for you. What ways can you start anew and then I encourage you to start anew. So I offer you this jewish prayer
“May this New Year, 5779, bring healing and renewal… joy and health…life and peace…
to us and to all the world.” May it be so”

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