United Against Hate
As I shared with you a few weeks ago, our brothers and sisters at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairfax were recently vandalized. Their sanctuary was desecrated with racial slurs, swastikas and the bold statement, "You are all going to Hell." The cushions on their pews were slashed - every single pew. Glass was broken. Cords to their sound system were cut. Just a year prior similar instances occurred at their neighboring religious institutions the Jewish Community Center and Little River United Church of Christ. All of these religious groups share in common a message to the community of welcome for all people.
On Wednesday evening Pastor Eickstadt and I participated in the event "United Against Hate: an Interfaith Response to the Words and Actions of toward Bethlehem Lutheran Church." We gathered with members of Bethlehem, religious leaders of numerous faith communities, elected officials and a variety of people from the Fairfax area moved by what had happened. Together we sang, prayed, lit candles and showed a unified front against hate in our community. We prayed for our community and for the perpetrators of the vandalism because, after all, Jesus is clear that we are to pray for our enemies.
Earlier in the day, I had been talking to someone about my evening plans who remarked, "Really? That kind of hate happens here?" Unfortunately, the answer is that it is does. Further, it is up to us to stand up against it.
Each worship service before Holy Communion is distributed you hear the invitation, "This is the Lord's Table and all are welcome here." When we say "all" we mean all. All people are welcome to gather around the Lord's Table. All people are welcome to be part of the faith community of Abiding Presence. We are not gatekeepers, but witnesses to a God whose love knows no bounds. Together, let us be a church united against hate so that we can build a community around the church that is united against hate as well.