As you read these words, it is likely that the Jewish observance of Yom Kippur will be fast (pun intended) under way. This year Yom Kippur begins on October 3rd and ends at nightfall on the following day. It is a solemn observance known as the “Day of Atonement.” It is a time for reflecting on one’s mistakes and sins and seeking reconciliation with other humans and with God. In addition to prayers, many Jews observe the holiday by volunteering somewhere as part of their atonement. There is a 25 hour fast and services are typically held throughout the day. Yom Kippur is a time of introspection and reflection, as Jews evaluate their behavior in the last year and their relationships going forward.
In a way, it’s a spiritual reset button- but a button whose pressing relies upon serious spiritual work.
Yom Kippur is not a unique religious holiday. Most religious traditions have some practice of turning inward, reflecting and being accountable for our actions. Some call it repentance, other traditions favor reconciliation.
When I was growing up my reference point was confession. Since my family was not solely Catholic nor practicing their faith and yet I was, confession was a bit of an illusion to me. I understood you went into a wooden framed box with a bench, shared what you had done wrong, said a few Hail Marys and it was all over. Bada bing, bada boom! You were forgiven!
It wasn’t until years later when talking with a Catholic sister who became a good friend that I understood the deeper meaning of confession. “How come you need a priest to get forgiveness from God?”
She looked bemused.
“I’ve never thought the priest to be God, only to represent the God within us all. The priest is there because forgiveness always requires another person. We all need help hitting the reset button.”
Unitarian Universalists don’t have a ritual of forgiveness but perhaps we ought to have one- a spiritual reset button. It is no coincidence that Yom Kippur falls at the same time that the New Year is beginning in Judaism. And It is no coincidence that this ritual is deeply communal.
As Unitarian Universalists, we don’t believe people are inherently sinful or in constant need of forgiveness, but we do believe that we are all in need of love and connection- a spiritual reset button.
And so with the focus of forgiveness this month we ask, where in your life do you need to hit the reset button? And what’s more, how can we at Piedmont UU Church help you?
We are here for the journey, together.
In faith and love,