One week ago a familiar phenomenon burst onto the consciousness of – we hope – millions of people in North America. Unspeakable violence, of the type that shakes us up like an earthquake shakes a mountain and spew us out like lava rocks, disrupted the lives of innocent people. Suffering gives us insight into and reason to hope for release and comfort. Things whispered in the dark have come to light. Hate and bigotry are out in the open. The murder of 11 Jewish congregants and the wounding of many others while they devoted themselves to their spiritual calling reminds us.
All of the people in the world who see themselves as having an interest in a civic society know what they need to do. It is either apathy or get a new attitude. Loving our neighbour cannot be legislated. We have learned that the moronic violence of armed guards in places of worship that the US president thinks would have saved lives has already is neither new attitude nor apathy.
We must remember this hateful act against the believing community and hold our conviction that we will not waste our heart resources on patriotism, nationalism, bigotry, xenophobia, and violence.
Our gratitude to God for the Tree of Life congregants continues. The dignity of divinity has shone through survivors. They and the fallen loved ones had already made their mark on American conscious with their pursuit of neighbourly love. The memory of Pittsburgh is unequivocal: the Tree of Live congregants are by every standard people people every community needs. Love and participation in society still speaks loudly.
When the Jewish people suffer because of who they are we all suffer. When the African family suffers – even insults by government officials – we all suffer. The family of believers (all people who trust and pursue the Supreme Being) know that the sacredness of a riverside worship needs no more armed protection than Israel needed when she departed Egypt or when the walls of Jericho fell without “a shot being fired”. We need to be protected from our forgetful selves. How we get past the profanation this violence represents is critical.
I pray that the One who led my parents to introduce me to the literature that Tree of Life members hold as most precious will help us to go to my places of worship with a fresh awareness of our vulnerability. People who have the highest ideals in their hearts will be the target of the malevolent spirit that has deceived and oppressed the poor.
Let us be very sure in this life of God’s regard for the living and the dead and his plan to do His good and generous pleasure. May we be ready to embrace the gifts, the fresh and the familiar, from his treasures.
In sacred memory of the Tree of Life Synagogue
8:08 AM 2018-11-03