The world was shocked last year when a gunman murdered 11 people at the Pittsburg Tree of Life Synagogue. One of the interesting things that occurred is that people of different faiths came to help. That event triggered reactions that brought about a positive response. People of the Jewish faith came to help their fellow Jewish friends – but it also brought together people of vastly different faiths.
Wasi Mohamed, who is a director of a local mosque, wanted to help the victim’s families with the funeral costs. He is Muslim, but he wanted to help people from the synagogue. He started an online fundraiser which set a goal of $25,000. They missed their goal when they raised over $214,000! And they didn’t just raise money, but they said, “Whatever you need, we’re here!” “If we need to guard the synagogue or if its’ going to the grocery store, we’ll be here to support you.”
Then Vice President Mike Pence, a Christian, appeared with Rabbi Warren Jacobs at a Unity Rally to honor the victims of the synagogue massacre. They joined arms and hearts to try and bring comfort to the people of the Pittsburg Tree of Life Synagogue. It was a great outward expression of what people can do.
People need each other. When there’s a need, it should unite people of any religion to help meet that need and help others. This was evident last week when a tornado swept through Lee County and some surrounding counties. 23 people were killed. No one asked about race or religious affiliation – people just came together to meet needs. People of all faiths came to help clear the roadways, provide food and shelter, and bring supplies that were badly needed.
Why does it take such a devastating tragedy to bring us together? Why can’t we reach out to each other in the good times? Instead of being so critical of people who don’t think like we do, why don’t we look for ways in which we can join hands and cooperate together? Look at how many needs in the world could be met if folks decided to get together and pool their resources.
This is so true in my own denomination – United Methodism. Today we are not united. At our recent General Conference there were instances where people on opposite sides of an issue said ugly, nasty, mean things about the others. And these people are Methodists! How can we expect civility in the world if we can’t live it in the church? (Tweet that!)
This is the Lenten season – 40 days leading to Easter. People often “give up something” for Lent. I purpose that we “take up something” for Lent (and beyond) that will bring harmony and love. We don’t have to agree with each other – but we can “treat each other as we desire to be treated.”
I’m praying for an outbreak of civility, kindness, goodwill, harmony and love amongst people in our country. It’s desperately needed. I believe that kind of a spirit can be contagious!
Let’s let our triumphs and our tragedies bring us together!