Time to Get Off Our Pews

May Peace Be with Our Neighbors

This week I am writing primarily to my Christian siblings. It is also applicable to other traditions. But some responsibilities come with being the majority wisdom tradition.

Our Jewish and Muslim neighbors need us. They need us now.

I have spoken at length about dehumanization and how it leads to violence. We are in a society where many groups, traditions, and cultures are separated from one another. We know that social media and even more traditional media will continue to turn us against one another. The algorithms will take advantage of our amygdalas and make lots of money doing so.

While we can hope that our Department of Justice and local law enforcement will do all they can to protect all of us, they cannot replace what neighbors – and neighbors in faith – can do: Show up in solidarity.

I am suggesting that we take a sign of welcome and peace and stand outside a local mosque for the Jumu’ah Prayer at about 1:00 PM on Fridays. Take a break, and then go to a local Jewish temple before a Shabbat service on Friday night or Saturday morning. We have a sign below that you can print off. Before you go, please check in with the rabbi and imam or other leader. Make your intentions clear.

When standing outside the mosque or temple, be prepared to greet people saying that you are glad that they are your neighbors, or that you want them to know they are not alone. Let them know you will be standing with both communities, too. I have found that each is grateful for that. See my previous blog about my experience. Share your experience with friends and family. It will help them, too.

I do want to be clear: there is an element of danger in this. White nationalism is a movement of violence. But there is a greater danger, in my view, if we do not stand with our neighbors in this moment. Jesus told us that there would be times in which to take risks for the well-being of ourselves, our neighbors, and our community. Our prayers, songs, liturgies, and teachings prepare us for that.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5:9

Many of us are full of grief, sadness, and experiencing a feeling of helplessness about so many conflicts in the world. I know I am.
Sometimes a small act of kindness, doing what we can do here in our own neighborhoods is better than sitting and stewing in our anxieties. “Love casts out fear”, John writes. Let’s believe our own sacred texts enough to test that out.
It is time to get off our pews and stand with our hurting neighbors.
I have found that I find more meaning in our prayers, songs, preaching, and the Lord’s Supper when I do.

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