On Palm Sunday I talked about how Jesus leads us in peaceful counter-processions, whereby we are called to subvert components of the cultural status quo like ethnic stereotypes, discrimination, and racism. My last words were: May our lives honor the one whom we seek to follow: Jesus, the peaceful one, riding on a donkey.
Less than two hours later news broke that three people had been killed by a gunman at two different Jewish facilities in Overland Park, KS. Early reports called this a hate crime, and the suspect was immediately linked to white-supremacist activities.
Upon hearing of this act of horrendous violence and hatred, I thought of the lines in 1 Corinthians 15:54…Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Right here, I say. It’s RIGHT HERE in Kansas City. The sting is often RIGHT HERE in our hearts, in our bodies, in our communities as we face the death of loved ones or as we try to make sense of these acts of violence and hatred. Our weapons have not all been turned to plowshares! Not all conflict has been transformed, at least not in ways we can comprehend or see at times.
On Monday afternoon, after attending an ecumenical Holy Week service in downtown Lawrence, and with grief and love propelling me, I decided to 1) write some letters (see below) and 2) attend the inter-faith service planned for 10 a.m. Thursday morning at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center.
Thursday, of course, is known in the Christian Church as Maundy Thursday, a time when we hear the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet, giving them a new commandment: “Just as I have loved you,” Jesus said, “you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This will most likely be a Maundy Thursday to remember as we gather for this interfaith service on Thursday, as we stoop to wash each others feet, even if symbolically, in a spirit of solidarity and love. If anyone wants to come with me, let me know.
The letters I wrote and sent are attached here:
This is a week for facing the reality of grief, pain and violence. This is also a week for hoping that a new day has and will continue to dawn. Consider joining others in this time of grief and hope. Our Wednesday Taize service will start at 5:45 pm and communion will be shared. On Friday, the sanctuary will remain open for prayer and reflection. Look for more details in the mid-week.
Let there be light, Lord God of hosts…
Let woe and waste of warfare cease, that useful labor yet may build its homes with love and laughter filled. God, give your wayward children peace!
Hymn with text by William M. Vories, Advocate of Peace, 1908