Interfaith Gathering for Remembrance and Peace

Tonight, my friend and former classmate, Dr. Sara Tariq, organized and interfaith gathering on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol to remember those who died in Christchurch, New Zealand last week and to pray together for peace. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and other faiths gathered to remember and commit to working toward a world where everyone can gather to worship without fear.

I was really honored to be among those who were asked to speak. There were folks far more eloquent and inspiring than me, but here is my offering:

I come with the full awareness that my Christian scriptures have far too often been wielded as a weapon. That Biblical principles have been warped and manipulated to excuse bigoted principles and perpetrate hateful and harmful acts. But make no mistake about it. Christians are not called to hate or to discriminate.  Jesus of Nazareth, the one we claim as Christ, will have none of that.

So please pray with me:

Maker of all things,

We weep with our kindred half-a-world away.

We are shattered that such violence has landed on their shore.

We are all-too-familiar with the devastation that gun violence can bring and the grief and anger than settle in its wake.

Give us an infectious spirit of peace.  Help us to make such violence something the next generation only knows about through books and not through experience.  

Widen our idea of the Holy and

Expand our understanding of exactly who our neighbor is

Help us to embrace all of your children.

May we never remain silent at the sound of slurs

At the sight of violence or

In the presence of hate.

May our faith and trust in the One who created us all

Give us the strength and courage to face what frightens us

And to love those whom some would have us fear.

And in those times when fear overcomes us,

Do not allow our fear morph in to hate

Or our hate to move us toward violence.

May we look to one another other as allies in the battle against extremism and encourage one another in our journeys toward a more peaceful and inclusive world.

Make our hearts clean and new when they become clouded by sin.

Renew our spirits when we become disheartened and discouraged.

Cause our war-weary souls to yearn for peace.

And turn our faces toward your light and your love.

Amen.

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