Tag Archives: Kavod Senior Life

Reflections on Remembrance with Kavod Residents in Denver

Caitlin Trussell with Kavod Senior Life Residents on January 27, 2020

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

[Remarks begin after the introduction]

Rabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav invited me to participate in the January 27 commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day with our neighbors at Kavod Senior Life in Cherry Creek. The residents and rabbis told powerful stories about their own memories of survival and of loved ones who died in the Holocaust. This included Sarah Moses who talked about being liberated in 1945 from the Bergen-Belsen death camp when she was seven years old. She’s now Denver’s youngest death camp survivor at 88 years old. I was able to bring Augustana’s greetings of solidarity and love as well as reflect on the significance of remembering. Feel free to ask about this or other ways to support our Jewish and interfaith neighbors.  Augustana’s CAN Ministry (Compassion and Action with our Neighbors) will also put the word out about future events.]

[Remarks begin]

It is good to be here…to bring you greetings of solidarity and love from your neighbors, the good sinner-saints of Augustana Lutheran Church down the road on Alameda.

It is good to be here…to personally celebrate the Jewish part of my family, my sister-in-law Robin, my nieces Camden and Lindsay, my nephew Noah, and my brother Kevin who converted to join them as a Jew.

It is good to be here…to gather, to remember, to grieve, and to celebrate life, in the face of the Holocaust that stole 6 million Jewish lives and 11 million lives of so many other people while traumatizing millions and millions more who lived in its aftermath.

It is good to be here…to be visibly in relationship across faiths to say never again and celebrate all life. Saying “never again” as we choose to be here together when we could be spending our time elsewhere.

It is good to be here as a Christian…to rightfully confess that some Christians were either complicit by their silence or collaborating with the violence; but also to celebrate that some Christians worked subversively and bravely to save the lives of neighbors and strangers alike. It is good to be here as a Christian to be reminded that Jesus calls us to act wisely and compassionately for the well-being of our Jewish neighbors because we know what the pain looks like when we fail to do so.

It is good to be here as a human…to be together in defiant hope and gentle candlelight; to be together today as we grieve, as we heal, and as we remember. It is good to be here. Amen.

 

 

 

Memorial to Victims of Violence [Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh]

**sermon art is Star of David by Ram Coenca, arcrylic on canvas, coenca-art.com

Caitlin Trussell with the residents of Kavod Senior Life in Denver and other faith leaders by invitation of Rabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav, on October 30, 2018

[Rabbi Steve invited our remarks and prayers to reflect unity in diversity as well as to offer comfort to residents of each faith leader’s tradition. He notes that the deaths in Pittsburgh hit Kavod’s residents in “some unique ways, including: Most of the victims in Pittsburg were over 60 as are our residents; a little under half of our residents are Jewish; our non-Jewish residents feel a special closeness, and vulnerability, with our Jewish community.”]

[Remarks begin]

I am Pastor Caitlin Trussell and I bring you greetings from my colleague Pastor Ann Hultquist, who is traveling, and the good people of Augustana Lutheran Church, your neighbors one mile to the east.

Over lunch on Tuesday a week ago, a rabbi friend of mine talked about his fear about being a Jew in America [2]. Then Saturday came and, with it, the murder of Jews in Pittsburgh. Twenty-four years ago my brother married a lovely Jewish woman. They raised their children at Congregation Or Ami in California.  My brother converted to Judaism more recently.  When I heard about the shootings, weighing heavily on my heart and mind were those who died, their friends and family, my Jewish friends and colleagues, as well as my brother, his family, and their Jewish congregation.

In Christian scripture, the Gospel of John, the 14th chapter, Jesus says to his disciples:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

I suppose that’s easy for Jesus to say.  Not so easy for us.  We can get lost in the details of Jesus’ words because, in the aftermath of Saturday’s killings of our Jewish cousins in faith, we see all too clearly how the world gives, which troubles our hearts and makes us afraid. Christians sometimes refer to our life here on earth as living on “this side of the cross” – meaning that we live in a world in which we so clearly see and experience suffering.

It’s a truth we understand deep in our gut. The truth that being human involves real suffering and pain. However, Christians see along with that truth that the cross means that God would rather die than raise a hand in violence against the world that God loves unconditionally.  Not only that, the cross also reveals the mystery of God suffering with us when we suffer, revealing life in the midst of that suffering through the love we share with each other; and through the love and solidarity we share with people of no faith and people of all faiths in our collective determination and actions to prevent future suffering.

It is in the spirit of love and solidarity that I offer this prayer from my faith tradition…

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, you have brought us this far along the way.

In times of bitterness you did not abandon us, but guided us into the path of love and light.

In every age you sent prophets to make known your loving will for all humanity.

The cry of the suffering has become your own cry; our hunger and thirst for justice for all people is your own desire.

You entered our sorrows in Jesus our brother. He was born among the poor, he lived under oppression, he wept over the city. With infinite love, he meets us in our suffering.

O God most merciful, our comfort and our hope, graciously tend those who mourn, that, casting all their sorrow on you, they may know the consolation of your love.

O God most majestic, you are breath and fire, our strength and our song, you show us a vision of a tree of life with fruits for all and leaves that heal the nations.

Grant us such a life as you make us instruments of your peace.[1]

Amen.

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[1] The prayer above is modified from Prayers for Worship VIII and X as well as the Funeral Prayer of the Day in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Hymnal).  (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2009), 67, 69, and 281.

[2] This same rabbi friend encourages the use of the word Jew acknowledging that non-Jews are squeamish about it given the pejorative use in history up through today.