The past days have brought distressing news. Many of us gathered in solidarity and worship yesterday morning and will keep doing so every Sunday as we yearn for peace, justice, and kindness in this broken yet beloved world.
In light of the mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday, I encourage you to reach out to your Jewish friends and neighbors to express your love and support of them. Consider mailing a card of support to Tree of Life (5898 Wilkins Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217) for the families and community of the eleven people killed. Please identify your affiliation to First Church in the card so our sisters and brothers will know that there are Christian communities standing in solidarity with them. I reached out to Rabbi Josh Brown of Temple Israel, here in Akron, this weekend to express both my and our support.
As we hear the news of this mass shooting, as we hear of the pipe bombs mailed to our former president and leading Democratic Party politicians, as we hear that a white man tried to enter a predominantly black church prior to shooting two people of color outside a Krogers in Kentucky, we are reminded that there is reason to gather in community, to belong to the kind of Christian community that follows Christ in promoting love and celebrating the diversity of God’s creation, that teaches the sacred connection between all life.
There is a great need for moral courage in our world right now. We cannot naively assume that values like mutual respect, liberty, dignity, freedom, kindness, and unity are a part of the fabric of our society. We need to actively work to weave them in by living them out, not just in the private arenas of our hearts and minds but also in the public sphere.
Together… together is the only way that we can remind ourselves of the good that is possible between peoples, together is the only way that we will create a world that is just and fair for all people, together is the only way that we can heal by affirming the worth and dignity of all others.
Jesus’ commandment to us, to love our neighbors as he loves us, is not something we can do without coming together. Today and together, beloved, our faith needs to become real. Let this be our prayer, let this be our ministry, let this be our vigil for the sake of our sisters and brothers, for the sake of ourselves. Amen.