It has been an extraordinary week for people of faith here in our region.
For the Jewish community, this week included Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement and the solemn beginning of the New Year, during which each person seeks God’s providence for the year to come.
For the Islamic community, this week included Eid Al Adha—the Feast of Sacrifice that celebrates the spirit of faith and sacrifice among believers, and the mercy and blessings of God.
For Catholics, the visit of Pope Francis to Washington, DC, was a singular event that focused the attention of the entire country on issues of faithfulness and compassion.
And all three of these events come at the time of the autumnal equinox—the end of summer and the beginning of fall, when the days get shorter, the nights get colder, and the harvest marks the end of one growing season and the dormant period of winter.
It is not unfair to say that religion, in its many forms, has taken the center stage during the past few days, and that the ideas that motivate the beliefs and practice of people of ancient faiths are being discussed and considered for their relevance in meeting the challenges of life in today’s world.
Perhaps it is appropriate for us to look at a text that is held sacred by all three of the groups marking milestones this week, and is also appropriate at the autumnal equinox. Psalm 74:16-17 states, “Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter.”
In the face of the extraordinary events that go on in our world every day, the psalmist proclaims the Sovereignty of God over all of life: the seasons, the boundaries of earth, the day and the night. And the wise teacher of Ecclesiastes declares, “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few” (5:2).
May we take hope and meaning from this extraordinary week—and the expressions of faith from so many quarters—with thankful hearts for God’s abundant blessing and grace.