I, like many, were truly saddened and horrified by the shooting yesterday at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas. http://www.kansascity.com/2014/04/13/4957486/one-reported-dead-in-shooting.html How in the name of anything holy someone could do this continues to haunt me. It is not just this act of violence, it is the school stabbings in Pennsylvania last week, school shootings, bombs exploding in market places, and relentless acts of hatred that scroll across my newsfeed everyday.
The shooting yesterday is much closer to home physically and emotionally. Knowing two children who were at the Jewish Community Center during the shooting, knowing the church and several of the pastors of the United Methodist grandfather and grandson who were killed certainly strikes a chord of how small this world really is. The very fact it happened at the beginning of Holy Week for Christians and the day before Passover begins for Jews makes the act all the more senseless and hateful. I suppose that hateful could be the very definition of “senseless.”
So, here I sit on Monday of Holy Week knowing I can not make sense of this and yet feeling the need to find the presence of God in the midst of it. Today’s readings from the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures are Isaiah 42: 1-7 and Psalm 27: 1,2,3, 13-14. The first passage talks about God’s servant establishing justice “without shouting or crying” but would do God’s work and to remind the servant and perhaps God’s people that they are to be a light to the nations.” The second is one of my favorites: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?….wait for the Lord and be strong and let your heart take courage.” In the midst of the Psalm the author does refer to the evildoers, but reminds us that we are to have faith and that we will see the goodness of God.
This evening, Passover begins for my Jewish brothers and sisters. It is a remembrance and celebration of liberation from oppression and slavery. How uncomfortably real that this year, my friends must still look for freedom from oppression and hatred and prejudice. It saddens my heart and spirit that many of the Passover observances will be surrounded by a police presence to make sure no one is harmed.
For Christians Holy Week is the journey of Jesus to the cross. There is betrayal on many levels, fear, unfair arrest, a quick trial and an execution of an innocent man. Jesus on the cross offers forgiveness and grace when he could have screamed curses on those who deserted him and crucified him. Jesus embodies love in the midst of hate, peace in the midst of violence and hope in the midst of despair.
Faith is all that keeps us from hiding in times like these. Faith is what gives us “courage” and keeps us steadfast. Last evening, Sunday April 13, the daughter of the man and mother of the son who were shot and killed went to a prayer vigil and shared these words.
Her words are a witness to her faith and the strength that God gives to see us through the most horrible of tragedies. May this week bring us that kind of faith, hope, comfort and peace.
I am graced to serve.