Christ Church Reno has only been in our building a short while, but it is already providing so much for both of our congregations. A few weeks ago, I was invited to join them for Father Juan’s installation. Among the guests was Bishop Eric Menees of the Anglican Diocese. As he spoke, a particular story caught my attention. He related a time when a congregant contacted him, disappointed that the “Church did not visit” them while they were in the hospital. “Didn’t Mitch and Sherry come to see you? What about Dottie and Nathan? I know they came.”
“Well, yes.” Replied the congregant.
“They ARE the church,” he responded. “And I guarantee you, they are all much better company than me.”
The Bishop’s message resonated with me: a congregation is the people. More than a particular program or even a place, it is the members who make for a community. The same is true for us. While Rabbis can provide prayers or knowledge or a specific set of skills, we cannot match many of the abilities that so many members of our community have. We do not yet have decades of relationships with you, and we are not Sinai. Each and every one of you are.
Temple Sinai existed long before we came to be your rabbis and will exist long after we are no longer here. You are the ones who fill the seats at services and pay the bills. You are the ones learning and teaching each other (with our help, of course). Yours are the families whose children grow up running around the building. You are the ones who call Temple Sinai home.
Rabbi Sara and I invite and hope that you will embrace this, your home. Your ideas are the ones that we should all be passionate about, and the programs you help build are stronger because they come from you. We want to partner with you in finding more ways to bring Temple Sinai into your lives.
Our volunteer boards are overflowing with opportunities to engage. Our committees are always looking for new members with new ideas and new energy. And we know you have these ideas, inspiration, and energy. This is your temple, let us help make it what you imagine a synagogue should be.
While the Bishop’s message inspired me, it also reminded me of an old story. There is a legend of a nobleman in a European mountain village who designed a unique synagogue never seen anywhere else. There were no lamps, and the people asked him, “How will it be lit up?” The nobleman pointed to the brackets which were all through the walls of the synagogue. Then he gave each family a lamp to bring with them each time they came to the synagogue. “Each time you are not here,” he said, “that part of the synagogue will be unlit. This is to remind you that whenever you don’t come, especially when the community needs you, some part of God’s house will be dark.”