One thing I noticed when I was at synagogue that has been rolling around the brain the past week: Their ‘sermon’ wasn’t the climax of the Shabbat service. It wasn’t like we often like to think about church, the music gets the heart softened and ready to hear “from God’s word” and then all the drama, Scripture reading, etc. leads up to…the SERMON (dun dun dun). The sermon was there at Shabbat service, but it was just another part of the gathering. It wasn’t long, only about 15-20 minutes out of the hour and a half service. As a result, it was a much more participatory service, where if you didn’t engage, you felt left out.
On a similar note: the rabbi didn’t present himself as “God’s Man” as many preachers and pastors do today, and yet he is probably much more respected among his congregation than many preachers and pastors today. Maybe there’s something to be learned there? It was very nice to have the rabbi identify the way he did with everyone else. He was there truly to shepherd and it showed.