Interfaith Choirs

Last Monday night we were honoured to host a gathering for prayer with three neighbourhood congregations—Grace Church on the Hill, Congregation Beth Tzedec, and Holy Blossom Temple. This sanctuary was full, with some 600 of the 800 people here our Jewish neighbours. It seemed every one of them thanked us, often with tears: ‘it’s been lonely. Thank you for your kindness.’ What we did was not hard: my sermon was short, Elaine’s conducting and Stephen’s playing were simple compared to a normal Sunday. It was just what we do: gather to sing and pray. But it meant so much to a people feeling very alone.

Have a look and listen: I defy you not to cry also.

We heard stories from Rabbis Yael Splansky and Steve Wernick of how when other people are in danger, Jews go to bat for them. After the Quebec mosque shooting in 2017, Holy Blossom offered to form a physical circle, holding hands, around a local mosque so their Muslim neighbours could pray in peace. That imam said, uh, my brother imams want circles too. Six more synagogues did the same for six more mosques. Seven houses of prayer for Ishmael’s children defended by Isaac’s children. Some wise folks say there can’t be peace in the world until there is peace between religions. Sometimes you realize—that’s already here. But after the horror of October 7th, rabbis didn’t get many phone calls of support. No circles were offered. So Jewish folks were hungry for the slightest kindness, and we could offer that.

Why was it all so moving?

It was more than just the tears and thanks, I think. For us Christians, Jesus Christ is God’s reconciliation. Paul says that Christ has broken down the dividing wall between Jews and everybody else (Eph. 2:14). Monday night there was no dividing wall. We were just neighbours, friends, fellow worshipers of the God of Israel. Not the same, not homogenized—our experiences are indeed different, blessedly so. But across that difference we could meet, befriend, make life together, treasure one another. It was a taste of the world to come.

More of this, Lord Jesus. And while you’re at it, bring release to all the rest of the captives too.

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