So powerfully brought home was the image of my neighbor as not only persons who look differently than I, but also those who worship very differently. Several Calvary folks joined people of many different faiths, cultures, and backgrounds at First Christian Church in Bloomington this past Monday (August 28) at: Unity in the Community: An Interfaith Service of Lament and Hope. Prayer of lament were shared by pastors of different churches; a Jewish Peace Song was shared by a quartet from the Moses Montefiore Temple of Bloomington; an ecumenical choir sang about peace and unity; statements by faith leaders from several traditions were heard; a beautiful reflection was shared; and prayers of hope were offered.
Along with Christian denominations, leadership and participation in the service included those from the Islamic Center, the Hindu Temple, and the Jewish Temple....all of Bloomington-Normal. We stood together against bigotry of all kinds and celebrated the love that we can have for one another as we work together toward peace in our land.
The following letter was written prior to this event and published in The Pantagraph, signed by many Bloomington-Normal clergy (including Randy and Debbie):
"Spurred by our latest national tragedy in Charlottesville, we the undersigned faith leaders of Bloomington-Normal, representing our many traditions, abhor the loss of life, the dishonoring of the children of the Divine, the insults hurled and the wounds of history re-opened. Events such as these inflict injury which damages our minds, bodies and spirits: the totality of our humanity. At times such as these, the faiths which sustain us separately come together to assure us that love remains the most powerful force in human existence, allowing no room for hatred, bigotry, discrimination and violence.
“Hatred is the poison of the spirit. The resulting fear cuts us off from the holy, from goodness, beauty and ultimately, life. It is love that truly confronts the corruptions of racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and discrimination of all forms.
“As faith leaders, we unite in commitment to stand up and speak out in nonviolent ways for love and justice. We pray for the day when ‘all shall sit under their vine and fig tree, with none to make them afraid.’ (Micah 4:4)”
There is never an instance when racism is appropriate. There is never a situation in which discrimination is a Christian act. When we reach out to one another with a hand of love, we are recognizing the worth of that person. Now that’s what defines the ways in which we treat our neighbors. Will you join me in doing all that we can to live out Christ’s commandment to love one another…..with no exceptions?
About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC