At the 1st Shavuot 3300yrs ago the InfiniteEternal “descended” and gave Torah, transforming the Hebrews into the (not yet named that) Jews . At the 1st Pentecost 2000yrs ago the Holy Spirit “descended” and 3000 people joined the disciples, birthing the Church.
At that 1st Pentecost the Jewish disciples of Jesus gathered to celebrate Shavuot. With the birth of the Church began a separation, that continues to this day, sometimes with lethal results. A couple generations later, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews went into exile. At the same time it is said that there was a split in the Divine, with the Shechinah, the immanent, feminine aspect of God, going into exile with us. Within Jewish tradition there are daily prayers for the reunification of the InfiniteEternal.
This split goes beyond the Jewish notion(s) of God and beyond the Jewish/Christian split. There is only one Divine, for which we all have different names and ways of approaching. The split in the Divine is not just that an aspect of God went with the Jews into exile, but that across the religions of the world, we often say that the different names of God are different entities altogether. The split is that we don’t recognize that there is One.
On Tuesday June 3rd we will come together with a spirit of unification, to celebrate the giving of Torah and formation of the church, to pray together with the names we use, to bring unification and healing to the separation while honoring our distinctiveness, by sharing our traditions and learning from each other. We will pray, dance, study, meditate, make art and eat cheesecake together.
In the Jewish tradition, we stay up all night because at the first Giving of Torah, some fell asleep and missed it. We don’t want to miss the ongoing revelation, so we stay up until sunrise, when Torah is given. In Christianity there is a reclamation of Pentecost vigils, which also involve staying up late into the night.
In Matthew and Isaiah, it says that the next Temple will be a Temple for all peoples. Whether you accept a physical Temple or believe in a metaphoric spiritual Temple, this Temple for all people won’t come on its own. We have to create the conditions for it. Let’s get to it!
The evening will consist of four distinct sections, each a self-contained unit unto itself, yet all part of a connected whole.
For the first part of the evening we will gather at 7:30. At 8:05 we will light candles for the holy days and share in the Jewish evening prayers, Ma’ariv. Then we will engage the histories of the holidays and study the biblical source texts for each, as well as how we came to this shared evening. After that we will make sacred art together (isn’t all art sacred?). Then we’ll debrief the experience. Interspersed through the evening we will chant Taize and sing Psalms. We will end by 11pm. Please try to stay for the whole segment.
11 till about 11:45 will be shmoozing and eating. Please bring diary/vegetarian treats to share. Some will be provided.
There is a tradition that at mid-night, around 12:48a.m. this year, on Shavuot, the communication channels between humans and the transcendent Divine are the widest open they ever are without any kavanah/intention from us. Between 11:45 and 12 we will prepare ourselves for this conversation, with a guided meditation of the unification of the names of God.
Of course, there will be more eating and processing after. Then, until 4a.m. we will engage in more study (possibly the book of Ruth), dance and other such activities as to help us not fall asleep.
The fourth and final section will take place, God willing, at the beach at the end of Greenleaf Ave in Rogers Park. Jewish tradition is to take a mikvah, dunk in living waters on Shavuot morning (brrrrr…) before morning prayers. And, since we have a Torah now, we will read the texts of the first day of Shavuot. We will arrive at the beach at 4:45, planning to get to Amidah, the silent prayer, at 5:14, when the sunrises. It is said that Torah was given at sunrise, and every year we receive anew our Torah for the year. This will be the first public reading of our Torah, so there are multiple interpretations all at once. A rain location will be announced soon.
Please come to any sessions you want. In the past people have shown up only for the beach part.
7:30-11pm Session 1
11-11:45pm Shmoozing and eating (eating will take place all night)
12-1:15am Session 2—Mid-night meditation
1:15-4am Session 3—Late night learning and dance
There will be some food provided, however this is a dairy potluck, so bring your "first fruits" offerings to share.
Some of us usually grab breakfast after all this.
Co-sponsored by Beit Yichud, Grace Commons (Chicago), Makom Shalom, Mitziut, and the Oratory of Jesus Christ, Reconciler
At St. James Presbyterian Church
6554 N Rockwell, Chicago