I used to regularly attend Sunday morning services at my friend Larry’s church. Once he remarked that he thought it was wonderful that he could hear me singing the hymns along with everyone else. I said, “Larry, why would I not the sing the words of the hymns with everyone else?” He said, “I can’t think of why you wouldn’t, but I am certain many Jewish people wouldn’t feel so comfortable to do so.”
I remember sitting in chapel services at my Dutch Reformed Church school. All the other Jewish kids and I would leave out the name Jesus in the Christmas carols. We ended each chorus of “Come all ye faithful” with “Oh come, let us adore Him, mmm’mn the Lord.” We would never even say the words Jesus or Christ. Nobody ever told us not to. It was just something we knew not to do. (A comical, yet poignant, example of this pervasive “not associating with Jesus” stigma is that I remember feeling somewhat tainted when a friend’s mom gave me a ride in a Chrysler LeBaron.)
I’ve grown. Now, I can easily quote St. Paul who put this best:
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
As a child, I thought as a child. I am now an adult, and I am truly comfortable in my religion. I am so comfortable in my religion that this rabbi can attend a church service, be moved by the story of Easter, and celebrate a gift-giving exchange and everything else about Christmas.
Iggy Pop, the famous musician, has said “I’m not ashamed to dress ‘like a woman’ because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.” While I feel this freedom in my religion, I aspire to this same level of freedom in all aspects of my life.
Meanwhile, I implore you to think: if we are really speaking about God, what matter is it what words we use to talk about God?
All words are limited. None of them are big enough. So if I sing a song with the word Jesus or recite a prayer with the word Allah, aren’t these all fingers pointing to the same moon?
#wisdom_biscuit: Be expansive in your religious thinking.