The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein
*Correction: the quote that I attributed to “a rabbi” was actually by Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning.
This is a nice, short sermon that I had an emotional connection to even though I never quite got the structure clear on it. It’s a weird one… I’m talking about the light and sacrifice and then BAM out of nowhere I make this abrupt transition into talking about the holidays. Then I take the congregation on a big, huge happy loop way around the subject before I get back to the tough stuff about light and sacrifice. I am truly fortunate that they are such good listeners and willing to take the ride with me.
I wanted SO badly to weave in the story of Moses and the burning bush here. I tried and tried but I just couldn’t find a way to make my point in a brief fashion to a congregation that might not be familiar with this image in Scripture. I wanted to use “the bush burned but was not consumed” as a kind of exclamation point or a grinding of salt on the top of the dish, you know, but I wound up having to do all of this explanation of the Scripture passage, setting it in context, and that killed the rhythm of how I wanted to use it. I hate sermons that contain too many big expositions so I try not to do that to my own congregation.
It’s a shame because it’s such a brilliant moment –a way of saying, “We burn and are consumed but God is not.” But you can’t pop that at a congregation for whom this image of the burning bush might be unfamiliar or confusing and expect them to get it. It’s not fair. And so I cut that piece.
We could all write a bajillion sermons about the metaphor of light, you know? But I was so taken with Frankl’s quote — the exact thing he said is, “What is to give light must endure the burning.” I couldn’t remember where I had seen it for the life of me. Of course I found the quote the day after I delivered the sermon. But it stayed with me for a good week after I read it. I couldn’t shake it. Still can’t. This is one of those times you wish you had about a year to think about something before speaking about it, but I liked it enough to want to share it right away as an idea. We can always delve more deeply into it later.
Thanks for listening.