Agape: March 2, 2020

Agape: The 2020 Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” -Deuteronomy 6:4-5

The Shema is one of only two prayers that are specifically commanded in the Torah (the other is Birkat Ha-Mazon — grace after meals). It is the oldest fixed daily prayer in Judaism, recited morning and night since ancient times. The first part of the Shema begins with one of the best-known, most fundamental expressions of Jewish belief, and the one from which this prayer gets its name: Shema Yisra’el… (Hear, Israel).

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה ׀ אֶחָד ׃
Sh’ma Yisra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.

וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶךָ׃
V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vav’kha uv’khol naf’sh’kha uv’khol m’odekha.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

While Ron was in Vietnam, I was living in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and on Friday nights I sang in the reformed Jewish synagogue choir and on Sundays, the choir at St. Paul’s by the Sea Episcopal Church. Nowhere was the liturgy more similar than the beginning of the Shabbat service and the beginning of the Rite I Eucharist service. During that time, I grew to appreciate the historical context of our worship and to understand it in a new and deeper sense.

“Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all they mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. Thou shalt love the neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
-BCP pg 324

Holy One, help us to recognize the richness and history of our liturgy. Bless us as we seek to live a life filled with your love and grace. Amen.
-Cathey Frederick