This afternoon as I am at home preparing for worship on Sunday, I am watching the horrifying scene of terrorism from Barcelona, Spain. At the same time, we are all still reeling from the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed in full force in Charlottesville, VA. I am also relieved that, at least for the present, the white supremacist rally that was scheduled in Gainesville has been deterred. My heart is heavy, as I trust yours is as well.
For the last few days, these verses from 1 John 4:7-8, 19-21 have been my prayer mantra:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.... We love because he first loved us. Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
Absolutely foundational to our faith in Christ is the command to love God and to love one another. I encourage all of us to remember who we are and fully embrace those commands, even as we deplore the hatred, racism, violence and terrorism at home and abroad. Beloved, let us love one another!
I have very much appreciated the following statement from Bishop Bruce Ough, President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops (click here).
Last week prior to all of these events, Steve and I participated in a first gathering of interfaith leaders in our community for the purpose of building relationships with one another and sharing in the offering of periodic events and worship services. This morning, that interfaith group (with leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and Christian faith communities) gathered again along with several invited law enforcement representatives from Gainesville and UF. The gathering today was to discuss possible events and actions in which we as interfaith leaders and communities could join in our commitment to "peace, hope and understanding." We are hopeful that the white supremacist rally which for now has been denied will, in fact, not be held in our community. We will also continue with plans to offer a witness against hatred, bigotry, and violence that is mindful of the wisdom and advice of local law enforcement. We'll keep you informed and extend invitations as events are planned.
May God bless and keep you in the peace of Christ.