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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Friday, June 19, 2015

BROTHERS AND SISTERS

Whether by reason of shared faith or our common humanity we come to
know and often call each other brothers and sisters. None of us, saint
or sinner is truly alone. No one is just a single individual with no
ties to anyone else. We all have a stake in each other's lives. We
share responsibility for one another at very different degrees of
accountability.

First let me greet our brother and sister Muslims who are now in the
holy month of Ramadan. As a community of faith they are fasting from
food and water from sunrise to sunset during this very hot and dry
month. Their fasting is not just for their individual discipline and
spiritual growth but for all of humanity to be more aware of one
another's needs. Peace, and thank you for your fidelity.

Tragically we have been drawn into the action of one individual in
Charleston who acted out of hate. Adding to this senseless act is
where it took place. Gun fire rang out in a historic church often at
the center of bringing comfort to victims of so much suffering. A
small circle of those in a Wednesday bible study welcomed their
murderer. Who can begin to explain or fully comprehend a young man
welcomed by a small group of believers into a circle of God's word yet
all the time contemplating their murder? Who can explain or comprehend
someone who acknowledges their warmth and welcome almost deterred him
from following his evil intention?

All of us may wish to wash our hands of such filth. However we all as
brothers and sisters must undergo a self-examination for the little
things that we say and do that creates the communities we live in and
the society that is ours. Charleston has given us a lesson in true
Christianity as well as a lesson of hate.

If we were able to compare the words that formed a young man into a
terrorist with the words that formed a pastor and politician we would
clearly see the impact of our words. On one side would be the hate
speech that blames certain people of color for the hopelessness that
filled the hearts of a murderer. From the radio waves, the internet,
the T.V. shows, and movies the heart of one weak young man was
fashioned into a cold blooded murder. Grandmothers and welcoming
pastor were not enough to melt the coldness of his heart. What must
have filled his mind were the unchecked words of blame, accusation and
dehumanization.

On the other side in comparison were the words fashioned out of a
movement of dignity, self-worth, respect, peace, and forgiveness. The
fruits of these words have spoken forgiveness and prayers for the soul
of the terrorist that he might surrender himself to Christ.

At minimum, each one of us is responsible for the words we listen to
and the words we say. At minimum each one of us is responsible for the
communities we shape by our words. The weakest most fragile
individuals will act out what they hear. These weak sad individuals in
our society feel empowered and justified when they hear others using
words to cause pain, to denigrate, to harm, and to separate out
others.

From those shaped by love and mercy the action of the weakest will
likely be hugs. From the weakest within families, groups,
associations, even churches that demean, devalue, insult, mock and
belittle will be violence.

I have heard more than once from individuals shaped by words of hate
and so called righteousness the very word of God being twisted for
hate speech. Preachers, politicians, news commentators need to be
particularly responsible for the fruits of their words. Add to these
words the powerful images or symbols these words evoke and we have
even more dangerous fuel to ignite violence.

Let us as people of faith be instructed, be encouraged and be
motivated towards action by those family members who lost their loved
one due to domestic terrorism in Charleston. Let us check our speech.
Let us be motivated by peace, understanding, respect, tolerance, and
forgiveness. It does not take courage to stand behind a gun but it
takes great courage to face a gun and offer peace to a brother or a
sister.

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