Offered in Starkville, Mississippi on June 16, 2016
by Rabbi Seth F. Oppenheimer

Ideas are important
Of course, ideas are important
Ideas help us
Understand the world
Organize our thoughts
Build a theory of our lives
But
When an idea is more important
Than
Your fellow human being
When an idea turns
A sister or a brother
Into an object
Into a thing
The idea has become an idol
If you are not making a human sacrifice
To this new Moloch
You are
At least
Whetting the knife

Faith is important
Of course, faith is important
Faith
Keeps us going
When we are lost
Keeps us dancing
When we can’t hear the music
Keeps us trying
When the end cannot be seen
But
When faith has hardened
Hardened into certainty
When faith
Leaves no room for doubt
When Faith turns your fellow human beings
Into objects
Into things
Because
Their faith is different
They do things we would not do

You have turned your faith into an idol
If you are not passing your fellow through the fire
You are
At least
Stoking the flame

G!D is important
Of course G!D is important
G!D is
The ground of being
The fount of existence
But
When you take your perception of the Holy
Your understanding of G!D
And
Because someone does not share
Your understanding
Your metaphor
For
What can only
Be reached for
But not contained by language
When
Because someone is different
You blind yourself
To the imperishable core of burning Holiness within them
Then you have taken
G!D
Even God
And
Turned G!D
Into an idol
When in your worship
Of your perception of God
You are willing
To blind yourself
To that essential Holy center of your fellow
If you are not building the sacrificial altar
You are
At least
Silently watching
The sacrifice take place

My dear friends. 
My brothers
My sisters.  
When we take something good and something beautiful and turn it into a tool for own self-aggrandizement
Or a shield against our own discomfort.  
When we fail to recognize our fellow human beings as being created with a core of essential Holiness. 
When we are willing to sacrifice them to some ideal
Some abstract idea
Brittle certainty
Or fixed theory of the HOLY
Then we have fallen
We have become idol worshippers
Where
In the end
That idol is
Our own ego
We have ceased to listen
Listen for the voice of G!D
That quiet still voice
That is always murmuring if we would but listen
Is unheard
Because we are so busy
Proclaiming our truth
Worshipping the idol of ourselves 

Let us judge our ideas and ideals by how they impact our fellows
Let our faith be leavened with humility, that we might
Not merely accept those with different ideas of faith
But learn from them
Let our idea of G!D not be circumscribed by the temptation to create G!D in our own image.
Rather
Recognize the Holiness in each human soul and so expand our constricted idea of The Holy.

It is time we learned
The best way
To encounter The HOLY
Is to encounter our fellow human beings
To meet them with
Kindness
Humility
Compassion
With love
Justice
Understanding
Come
Let us commit to
The path of kindness
The path of justice
The path of love

Let us comfort the mourners
The fearful
The oppressed
With the promise
We will not be silent
Will not stand still
We will stand with them
We will stand beside them
We will see in each
In every
Human being
The holy flame
That burns within

 

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