A Time to Grieve -- Reflections on the Attack on the Christ Church Mosques
Before I went to bed last night I saw reports of a mass killing at mosques in Christ Church, New Zealand. I woke up to learn that at forty-nine were dead with others critically injured. Reports like this do not generally emerge from New Zealand, but here we are. It was Friday in New Zealand when the shootings took place, and the Muslim community was gathering for Friday prayers. The person who is taking responsibility for this, provided a manifesto, targeting immigrants and refugees. We must call this what it is, and that is a terrorist attack on peaceful people gathered for worship.
Of course, I like most decent people, condemn the attacks on these two mosques. Unfortunately, these kinds of "events" have become all too common. Whether mosques or synagogues or churches or gurdwaras or temples, they have become targets of hate and violence. I'm preaching this Sunday from Psalm 27, which declares "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" A moment like this gives us pause. There seem to be enemies encamped around us, seeking to do people harm because they are immigrants, refugees, are simply different. It is difficult to stay true to the promises of God and believe with the Psalmist: "I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Ps. 27:13). But I must keep to the promise, and not give up hope, even though it seems as if hope is slipping through my fingers. So I pray. Indeed, I will continue to sing and make melody to the Lord, even though the melody might be that of a lament.
It is Friday in the United States. My Muslim friends will be gathering for prayers today. I know that they will gather with grief on their hearts. I know that they may have fear in their hearts, and that is understandable. The rhetoric of hate is growing stronger. The rhetoric of intolerance is growing stronger. I looked for a word from the Quran to share. I did find this word, which I hope speaks a word of hope and peace. It seems to have some similarities to Psalm 27. I share this word from the Quran in solidarity with those who survived the massacre in Christ Church and in solidarity with my friends. Know that I grieve with you:
O you who believe! Seek help in patience and prayer. Truly God is with patient. And say not of those who are slain in the way of God, "They are dead." Nay, they are alive, but you are unaware. And we will indeed test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth, souls, and fruits; and give glad tidings to the patient---those who, when affliction befalls them say, "Truly we are God's and unto him we return!" (Quran 2:154-156)
May the peace of God be with us all!