Why do people engage in violence? As we begin Holy Week, remembering that Jesus faced the violence that defines the Domination System, by facing the Cross and then experiencing the Resurrection, we must bewail the ongoing presence of violence in our midst. In Detroit recently we witnessed a man being beaten after he accidentally hit a boy with his trick. That event drew the community together to reject violence and call for building bridges.
With that in mind I learned this afternoon that a gunman attacked two Jewish Community Centers in Overland Park, Kansas. Olathe is a suburban community outside Kansas City, Missouri. The news is just coming in, but apparently three were killed and the gun man is alleged to have shouted "Heil Hitler" as he was being taken away by police.
I wanted to connect this shooting with Holy Week because there is a history of anti-Jewish violence committed in the name of Jesus -- accusing Jews of being Christ-killers. I don't know if this was part of the gunman's rhetoric, but it is important that we who make up faith communities reject any kind of rhetoric that condones or encourages violence against another because of their religion. We don't have to agree with each other, but in this day and age it is essential that we respect one another's right to worship and live in safety and peace.
So, won't you join me in prayer for those who have lost loved ones, and may we pray for those who are seeking to build bridges of understanding that will bring an end to such hateful crimes?
May the words of the 23rd Psalm serve to guide our prayers.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[d]
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.