As Thanksgiving approaches and we take stock of that which we have to be grateful, we find ourselves experiencing heartache as well.
Recently, our country has been faced with acts of unspeakable hatred through mass shootings as eleven people were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and another twelve were murdered in Thousand Oaks. In Kentucky another two people were murdered merely for being people of color. During this difficult time, we stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and our neighbors in California and Kentucky. We struggle to find answers as to why, in Mr. Roger’s own neighborhood — a place synonymous with understanding and love in our collective minds and American culture — people coming together to celebrate life lost theirs at the hands of a person filled with hate. We ask ourselves how a person could kill another simply for the color of their skin. We wonder what can be done to prevent more from dying while merely enjoying a night out.
All members of the church must speak out against antisemitism and racism. We also need to speak against antisemitism and racism whenever we hear it from our family, friends or colleagues. We need to stand against a culture of violence and hatred. We need to shout with joy the command we have been given from Jesus: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” We need to change the culture so that such shootings become unthinkable. This is part of our calling as God’s beloved children.
As we seek to find meaning in such heartache, we must pray for those who died, who they left behind, and for one another. We pray for those innocent lives lost at the Tree of Life Synagogue, Kroger grocery store and the Borderline Bar and Grill, their families and loved ones. We also will pray for those who, by word or action, promote hatred and violence. May their hearts of stone be transformed into hearts of compassion, and their words of hatred be transformed into words of shalom.