A Morning of Unity and Justice

Rabbis David Lazar of Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs and Richard Zionts of the Har-El Institute for Study and Worship in the Reform Tradition joined us for worship Sunday Morning, August 20 to celebrate a Morning of Unity and Justice at St. Margaret’s. The day offered a celebration of our unity and God’s grace in the face of death and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and Barcelona, Spain in recent days. Imam Reymundo Nour was slated to participate, but was unable to attend because of a death in his family.

Specially selected scriptural readings were used with the permission of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and special prayers and music were used. The rabbis together offered a chanted and translated Aaronic blessing to conclude the worship. Members of Temple Sinai and Har-El were in attendance for the service, which was hailed as beautiful and meaningful.

Here are texts, photos, and audio and video clip highlights of the morning. Click to enlarge photos or play audio or video clips:

Rabbi David Lazar chants the first lesson: Micah 6:6-8

בַּמָּה֙ אֲקַדֵּ֣ם יְהֹוָ֔ה אִכַּ֖ף לֵֽאלֹהֵ֣י מָר֑וֹם הַֽאֲקַדְּמֶ֣נּוּ בְעוֹל֔וֹת בַּֽעֲגָלִ֖ים בְּנֵ֥י שָׁנָֽה: הֲיִרְצֶ֚ה יְהֹוָה֙ בְּאַלְפֵ֣י אֵילִ֔ים בְּרִֽבְב֖וֹת נַֽחֲלֵי־שָׁ֑מֶן הַֽאֶתֵּ֚ן בְּכוֹרִי֙ פִּשְׁעִ֔י פְּרִ֥י בִטְנִ֖י חַטַּ֥את נַפְשִֽׁי: הִגִּ֥יד לְךָ֛ אָדָ֖ם מַה־טּ֑וֹב וּמָה־יְהֹוָ֞ה דּוֹרֵ֣שׁ מִמְּךָ֗ כִּ֣י אִם־עֲשׂ֚וֹת מִשְׁפָּט֙ וְאַ֣הֲבַת חֶ֔סֶד וְהַצְנֵ֥עַ לֶ֖כֶת עִם־אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ: ךָ

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Rabbi Richard Zionts leads the congregation in saying Psalm 133

Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity!
It is like fine oil upon the head that runs down upon the beard,
Upon the beard of Aaron, and runs down upon the collar of his robe.
It is like the dew of Hermon that falls upon the hills of Zion.
For there the Lord has ordained the blessing: life for evermore.

Margo Baxley reads the Second Lesson, Romans 12:9-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Rev. Cherry Remboldt proclaims the Gospel (Matthew 15:10-28), and Rev. Lane Hensley preaches

Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.” Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Sue Shigenaga offers the Prayers of the People.

A Litany for Social Justice
Prepared by the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations (adapt.)

Brothers and Sisters:
God commands us through Jesus Christ to love one another.
In baptism, we promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,
loving our neighbors as ourselves and to strive for justice and peace,
and respect the dignity of every human being.”
Let us now honor those vows and pray for wise and just leaders,
and for the needs of others throughout our country and the world,
asking God, “Hear our prayer.”

We pray for continued blessings on all peacemakers,
on leaders who value peace,
and on everyone who promotes nonviolent solutions to conflict.
We pray for a speedy end to all violence and warfare around the world.

God of peace and gentleness,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the strength of heart and mind to look beyond ourselves
and address the needs of our brothers and sisters throughout the world;
for the rural and urban poor; for the rebuilding of our communities;
and for an end to the cycles of violence that threaten our future.

God of generosity and compassion,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all nations, that they may live in unity, peace, and concord; and that all people may know justice and enjoy the perfect freedom
that only God can give.

God of liberty and freedom,
Hear our prayer.

We pray that the Holy Spirit
may embrace the most vulnerable members of our society;
we pray also for an end to the growing disparity
between the rich and poor;
and for the grace and courage to strive for economic justice.

God of all gifts and blessings,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for an end to prejudice throughout our country and the world;
that we will respect all people as precious children of God;
and that racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination
will be forever banished from our hearts, our society, and our laws.

God of fellowship and equality,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for a reverence of creation;
that we will have the tools and the will to conserve it;
that we will use its bountiful resources in the service of others;
and that we will become better stewards
of all that has been entrusted to us.

God of nature and the universe,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all immigrants, refugees, and pilgrims from around the world,
that they may be welcomed in our midst
and be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.

God of outcasts and wanderers,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the sick, the aged and the infirm;
for those with physical or mental disabilities;
that all may have access to proper health care;
and that God’s loving embrace may be felt by all who suffer.

God of comfort and healing,
Hear our prayer.

Holy One,
remove the log from our eye before we perceive the speck in others’.

We ask your forgiveness
for all who remain silent in the face of injustice,
and most especially for our own failures
to defend the rights and needs of those you have given us
to love and serve in your name.

We pray for all prisoners and captives;
that a spirit of forgiveness may replace vengeance and retribution;
and that we, with all the destitute, lonely, and oppressed,
may be restored to the fullness of God’s grace.

God of absolution and mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all children and families,
and particularly for the orphaned, neglected, abused,
and those who live in fear of violence or disease;
that they may be relieved and protected.

God of children and families,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the reconciliation of all people,
and for the Church throughout the world,
that it may be an instrument of your healing love.

God of outreach and restoration,
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who have died
as a result of violence, war, disease or famine,
and especially for Heather Heyer,
and for those who have died
because of human blindness, neglect, or hardness of heart.

God of eternal life and resurrecting love,
Hear our prayer.

Almighty God,
you have promised to hear what we ask in the name of your Son.
Watch over our world now and in the days ahead,
guide our leaders in all knowledge and truth
and make your ways known among all people.
In the passion of debate give them a quiet spirit;
in the complexities of the issues give them courageous hearts.
Accept and fulfill our petitions, we pray, not as we ask in our ignorance, nor as we deserve in our sinfulness,
but as you know and love us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Rev. Lane Hensley makes announcements, and invites greetings from Rabbis Zionts and Lazar.


Rabbis Zionts (left) and Lazar pray together.


A Visitor at Prayer


Rabbis David Lazar and Richard Zionts offer the Aaronic Blessing at the conclusion of worship.


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
About Lane Hensley 74 Articles
Former Rector