Responding to the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

The shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh horrified and saddened our church community.

The following message and blessing was mailed to Boulder-area synagogues and Jewish community centers. FUMC members Jean Hodges and Barbara Middleton authored the letter, and our Deacon, Rosalee Blake, wrote the blessing.

 

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.”

~The Talmud

November 7, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

We, the members and friends of First United Methodist Church of Boulder, join all other faith communities and people of conscience in decrying the heartless violence committed by a gunman whose hatred of Jews stole the lives of eleven people in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and another gunman whose hatred of African Americans cut short the lives of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015.

Houses of worship have traditionally been sanctuaries for refuge, no matter what religion. We reach out in solidarity with people of all religious traditions or none. We grieve for the loss of precious lives. We mourn for the pervasive prejudice against Jews and people of color that raises its ugly head once again. We stand in solidarity with those who are appalled that ingrained hatred against “the other” has been emboldened publicly by ugly words and despicable actions.

How can we greet each day when we know so many will not be joining us in that greeting because their lives have been cut short by an assassin’ s bullet? How can we greet the day when our hearts are so heavy with sorrow, grief, disbelief, angst, fear and despair? Perhaps it is because of all these lives ended prematurely…these victims of hate who can no longer greet the light of day… that we must! We must greet the day in their names, we must greet the day in the name of their spirits, and in the name of the Spirit that guides them and us.

As followers of Jesus, we understand that Jesus’s compassion for all people and work for social justice grew out of his own Jewish faith. Jesus’s teachings remind us that it is time to reclaim by word and deed that our country cannot endure such alarming disrespect for human life. We offer sympathy and more to our Jewish friends and neighbors. We also commit to stopping hate language whenever we hear it, and actively working to prevent anti-Semitic and racial violence. It is time to go beyond shock and horror to acts of kindness that include all the disenfranchised and melt the hatred of the fearful.

We must greet the light of day, bless the day, and work for the day when Love can, and will, overcome hate. Every day, we must greet the day with fierce Love, work with fierce Love, act with fierce Love, do all we can in the name of fierce love, for us and for all the victims, because they can no longer greet the day with us on Earth! We must bless and greet the Light of Day with Love.

Jean Hodges
Member, FUMC Boulder
PFLAG National President Emerita

Barbara J. Middleton
Member, FUMC Boulder
Ordained All Faiths Clergy
Retired Clinical Social Worker

 

Blessing in a Time of Grief

People of sincere and authentic faith practice and express a language of hope, and of love. We mourn, and experience profound distress following the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue. I, along with my community of faith, First United Methodist Church in Boulder, stand against the hateful violence in Pittsburgh. We stand in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers in the rawness of their loss and grief, and fear.

Hearts broken,
Darkness and pure evil have crept in again in a cruel way.
Where is the promise of God’s light and love?
Where do hope and love emerge in the midst of tragedy?
How can we console our Jewish brothers and sisters in Boulder?
Dare we offer a hand, a prayer, a friendship, a blessing…..
May we walk together remembering
God is the God of ages past
God is the God of the present,
and God is the God of our future.
May we hold onto this Promise.
May we reach out to others,
Sharing our own words of faith,
Trusting in God’s guidance, in all of life.
As we stand in the Holy Mystery that is sometimes silent when we ask the questions,
May we Receive from the Holy One.
May we Receive from one another.
May we Receive from Creation.
May we Receive enough to give to others…..Always, and Everywhere, as long and as often as we can.
May our bodies, hearts, and minds extend the language of Grace, in our words and actions.
Perfect Love casts out all fear.
Perfect Love casts out all hate.
Amen, and Amen.

~The Rev. Rosalee T. Blake, MA
Deacon in the United Methodist Church