Weep with Those Who Weep

My Dear Friends,
 
In light of the recent tragic events in our United States, I offer reflections from my heart.
 
Last week, pipe bombs were mailed to 14 or more public servants. Thankfully and amazingly, none of those bombs exploded. Then the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was attacked. Eleven of the people who had gathered for worship that morning died. Ironically, the neighborhood where the attack occurred, was once the neighborhood for Fred Rogers.
 
Our Jewish sisters and brothers remind all of us, “The Torah (Sacred Scripture) teaches that every human being is made “b‘tzelem Elohim” (in the image of God).”
 
Our compassion and shared grief are extended to those who lost loved ones. Please surround them with your prayers for God’s comforting presence in the midst of their pain and confusion. We commit to stand hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder with all people!
 
Next, I remind you that words matter. Hate-filled words and ideas embolden the actions of those who wish to do harm. Toxic environments of intolerance are not acceptable. Sadly, words and acts of hatred and bigotry are heard and accepted far too often. We shall continue to speak words of love and mercy. We shall continue to offer acts of compassion and grace.
 
As followers of Jesus, we hear his words “to love another.” As heirs of Moses, we remember that he was rescued and welcomed as a baby. By faith, we are linked to Mary and Joseph who fled persecution and later experienced hatred and bigotry against their son Jesus.
 
Our response to acts of hatred and violence is first to hold on to those who are hurt and hurting with our presence and prayers. Next we maintain hope, trusting and believing that good vanquishes evil and light overcomes darkness.
 
Long ago, Ronald Reagan said,
“We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exists as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America – none, whatsoever.”
 
May we be the people that God created and redeemed us to be.
 
Sincerely,

Woody Brown
Interim Pastor
First Presbyterian Church of Dallas