God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Call to Prayer // Open Letter to the Community of Christ United Methodist Church and our Neighbors in Wisconsin.
6 August 2012Posted by on
In the wake of the shooting in the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin on August 5, 2012, I ask myself what makes someone feel such hatred. Why are we so prone to hating each other?
Dictionary.com defines “hate” as intense or passionate dislike; as an extreme aversion for or extreme hostility towards someone. Wikipedia defines “hate” as a deep and extreme emotional dislike. The objects of such hatred can vary widely, from inanimate objects to attitudes, animals, oneself or other people, entire groups of people, people in general, existence, or the whole world. Hatred can drive persons to extreme actions and extreme behaviors including violence, murder, and war.
From my personal experience I know that hatred is stirred in our hearts when we feel threatened. It is easier to understand a person’s hate when they or their loved ones are directly threatened with harm but harder to understand hate and violence when it is directed at a person or group that is not a direct threat to others.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion and a system of beliefs that challenge its followers to have control over their internal vices and to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of religion, color, caste or creed. Similar to our Wesleyan understanding of life as a journey towards God, Sikhism teaches that life is a journey towards spiritual union with God. That is why it is difficult for me to wrap my mind around what happened yesterday.
As I write this, there are conflicting reports about the motives of the shooter. Hatred and bigotry, among others, are named as reasons for his rampage.
Although we do not know any of the people who gathered for worship in their Temple on the fateful day of August 5th, they are our neighbors and they are God’s Creation who knew them in their mother’s wombs, counted every hair on their heads and had hopes for their lives. None of them know anyone in our church, and I am pretty sure that none of us know anyone in their Temple. Although we don’t know each other, they are our neighbors and our hearts break for them.
On behalf of our community and as pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, I want to express words of sympathy to the victims, survivors and their families. Although nothing can undo what happened, we hope that our thoughts and prayers will bring a little comfort to all of our neighbors as they deal with the aftermath.
As a church we pray for those who lost their lives and their families. As a church we pray for those who had to witness this horrific incident so that they can find strength to grieve, to process what happened and to move on with their lives. Our hope and prayer is that they can find the strength to continue living their lives knowing that each moment of life is a blessing and an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else.
As a church we pray for those who protect us: our policemen, firemen and EMTs, those who respond to tragic events like this and who risk their own lives to protect ours. We pray for the policeman that is fighting for his life in ICU and for his family.
As a church we pray for the doctors, nurses, medical technicians and other healthcare personnel. We thank God for calling them to their vocations in the healthcare field and we ask God to use them and God-revealed technology as instruments of physical cure as well as emotional and spiritual healing in all of our lives.
Finally we pray for the perpetrator of the crime and his friends and family. I pray for our legal system, for our mental health professionals who will be working with him, I pray for both mercy and justice for his life.
As we grieve this horrific crime, God grieves with us over the senseless and thoughtless actions that have caused so much pain and loss. God is as close as a prayer, and God is here next to each and every one of us. May God’s grace be with all of us, may God’s mercy bring healing into our communities and may we find the desire to reach out to God.
You can learn about Sikhism at this link