Pastor's Desk November 4, 2018

Nov 2, 2018

As we continue to reflect and pray on the tragic events at the Tree of Life Synagogue last week, our hearts are weighed down by sadness and mourning. As people of faith who strive to keep the great commandments of loving God and our neighbor, we may be struck this weekend by the fact that we may not be far from the kingdom of God, but we still have much work to do.

We cannot love our God as well as we should until we come to that same love of self and others. Every person on this earth is our neighbor, a person created in God’s image and likeness. One of the reflections I offered on a retreat a few years ago was the challenge to see the face of God in yourself. I asked each participant to look at themselves in the mirror each day and simply pray: I will be the face of God to myself and others this day. At the end of the retreat each person received a small mirror engraved with their name and the quote, “this is the face of God.”

The challenge then is to show this face to all we meet. Do we love unconditionally as God loves us? Do we refuse to pass judgment on others and leave that to God who tells us not to judge? Are we still holding grudges, prejudice or hatred in our hearts? Are we still using speech to tear down and bully rather than to build up and encourage? It is a sobering thought, but maybe we are farther from the kingdom of God than we think. We need to see the wonderful face of God in our neighbor.

Author Anne Lamott put is quite bluntly: “You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” We have seen what that hatred did last week as innocent people were killed for their faith. Hatred cannot and will not define us. Violence cannot and will not define us. WE are people of the Kingdom of God. So, now is the time to stop all of those things that separate us and drive us apart. We ask that God help us heal the divisions that have come between us and help us become one in love as the Trinity is one in love.

Anne Lamott also states that “Hope begins in the Dark.” In this time of darkness, let us be the light and the love of Christ. Let us show the world that we love our God with our whole heart, mind, soul and body and that we love each other the same way. Offer a hug, give a smile or offer words of prayer and encouragement as we assist each other in this time of tragedy. The darkness is always overcome by the light of love. Show the world the face of God which is always the face of love.

May our departed sisters and brothers rest in the peace of our loving God. In the name of the martyrs of Squirrel Hill, may we recommit ourselves to love one another until the darkness of hatred and violence is erased from our world. Remember, we are the face of God.