We are a historic and vibrant church in the town of
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
Our weekly worship service takes place every Sunday at 10:00.
Worship services are currently HYBRID – you may attend in-person or online.
If you are looking for information about attending virtually, the Zoom, check our "About us" tab under "About our Worship"
Worship services are public — visitors are always welcome, in-person or via Zoom (feel free to keep your camera off if you prefer), and congregants are encouraged to invite any friends who might be blessed by taking part.
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09:00 am – 01:00 pm
09:00 am – 01:00 pm
09:00 am – 01:00 pm
Good evening! I’m Reverend Emily Brown, and I’m the pastor of First Reformed Church here in Hastings on Hudson. I am honored to be with you tonight as an interfaith neighbor.
Because I’m here as Christian clergy, I want to start by acknowledging that the history of Jewish/Christian relations is very complicated, and pretty horrible on the Christian side; that a great many of the atrocities and injustices that the Jewish community has suffered over the centuries have been at the hands of people who called themselves Christians, and often under the auspices of the Church.
But I want to take us back in history. Before the Proud Boys, before the complicity of the German Church in the Nazi regime, before the KKK, before pogroms, or inquisitions, or any of the rest of it, to the very earliest days of the Christian faith.
The community of followers of Jesus - not yet called Christians - initially almost all Jewish, and later including Gentiles, were trying to understand what the relationship was between themselves and Judaism. They didn’t know whether Christianity, as it would come to be called, was a kind of Judaism, or whether it was a new thing entirely, or something in between. (It’s difficult to imagine!) The Apostle Paul offered the gentiles who were part of the earliest Christian communities this image: they were like branches grafted onto an olive tree. The olive tree, in this image, is Judaism.
That image is a reminder that the teachings of Jesus, the stories he told, the way he lived – they came from somewhere. They came from the traditions that had been passed down from his ancestors; from the scriptures and stories and songs he had been raised with; from the community of faith he had been raised in. We Christians who are nourished and sustained by the teachings of Jesus, we are like a branch grafted onto the olive tree. We are being nourished and sustained, in part, by the deep roots of the Jewish tradition, from which Jesus drew so much of his teaching.
And so when I hear my Jewish neighbors ask whether they have a place here, as three of my sisters, my neighbors, did in a recent town meeting, it breaks my heart. It would break my heart for anyone, but it especially breaks my heart because I see us as two communities that share common roots. I do not want to be at home in a place that can’t be home for you.
We are deeply connected by history, and I personally am deeply blessed by the relationships I’ve formed with my Jewish colleagues who are rabbis and cantors, and by being in community with my Jewish neighbors and friends. In my congregation we are deeply blessed as well, especially by our partnerships with Temple Beth Shalom, which once shared our space, and worshiped in our chapel for a period of some years, while they were undertaking work in their building, and with whom we still share a special bond and have joint worship services, and by our partnership with Mishkan Ha’am, the reconstructionist Jewish community which shares our space now.
And so in that spirit, I bring you the greetings of my church. I want to tell you how thankful we are to have you as our neighbors. I want to acknowledge the deep pain of the Jewish community that has been spoken here today and in the previous days and weeks in response to the terrorist attacks in Israel. I want to acknowledge the pain of families in Israel, here, and around the world who are mourning senseless deaths at the hands of Hamas on October 7th; I want to acknowledge, as well, the pain of the Jewish community over the murder of synagogue president Samantha Woll yesterday in Detroit; may their memories be a blessing. I hold in prayer, too, the Israeli hostages, and the worry and fear of their families who are waiting still for loved ones to come home, and wondering if they will. And I want to acknowledge the pain of *this* Jewish community that you have not felt supported and understood here in Hastings. You deserve to be safe and to feel safe; to know that you are an integral part of this community, and that we love and value you as our neighbors and our friends, and we stand with you in your grief, your worry, and your pain. We share deep roots. And so your pain is our pain, and we as a community cannot be well until all of us are well.
When Ronit asked me to speak, I shared with her that it’s part of my tradition to always pray for all innocent people who are suffering due to circumstances beyond their control. She assured me that you know, that we all know that this is a tragedy where there are no winners. In that spirit we pray as well for the people who are suffering in Gaza. Although sometimes it is hard to even imagine what peace would look like, although I do not know how we will get there, it’s my calling to hold on to the dream. So I remember the words of the prophet Isaiah, who dreamed of the day when all peoples will beat their swords into plowshares, when nation shall not lift sword against nation, when they will study war no more. We remember that we share deep roots, and we pray for peace and harmony between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We hold tight to the teaching that every human is made in the divine image, and we hope and pray for a day when every human has a place to call home; a place to be safe and feel safe.
We join you in your sorrow and we stand with you in our hope that the hostages will be restored to their families, that the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors of each and every one of those more than 200 precious souls will be safely reunited with their loved ones.
If you’re comfortable doing so I invite you to join me in a spirit of prayer. This is a beloved prayer from the Christian tradition:
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, O Lord; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, have mercy on the afflicted, protect the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
FIrst Reformed Church of Hastings on Hudson
18 Farragut Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York 10706, United States
Copyright © 2023 FIrst Reformed Church of Hastings