I prayed about whether to add to the voices who would be writing today.
It initially seemed to me today should be about honoring the memories of lost loved ones; so many lost loved ones. And honoring the true heroes – the New York firefighters and other first responders who walked toward the tragedy instead of away from it.
Yet, something in me knew, with recent global events, there would also be other voices – vilifying Muslims; throwing all those who live in the Middle East under the bus; categorizing “them” as terrorists while celebrating “us” in the name of God.
I decided to raise my usually quiet voice against those who are trying to drown acceptance, trying to push those open hands of inclusion under a sea of hatred, trying to engulf Jesus’ words to love God and love your neighbor as yourself in a torrential tsunami of division and wall-building.
“If you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions, when you get involved in God’s work, you will not only be useless yourself but also a hindrance to those around you.” Oswald Chambers
Today is not a day for quiet voices. Today is not a day to accept hatred. Today is not a day to accuse our Muslim brothers and sisters, or look askance at them. Today is the day to ask them to dinner.
Today is not a day to applaud the wall the Israel has built, separating their Palestinian brothers and sisters from their former neighbors. Today is the day to begin to insist it be taken down.
Today is not a day for refusing to accept our gay brothers and sisters into our lives and into our churches. Today is a day for reuniting, for saying a personal, “I love you,” and, “You are perfect, whole and loved, and acceptable for exactly who you are by the God who created both of us.” Today is the day to let Russia know the Olympics are games not just of profit and ego, but of true inclusion.
Today is not a day to ignore your neighbor, or your neighbor’s kid, or your classmate who might be in pain. Today is the day to reach out; to end the loneliness and the hopelessness. Today is the day to be a friend, to be a light.
Today is not the day to forget your tongue is a weapon of mass destruction. Today is not a day to insult anyone, but to focus on your own sins. Jesus, of course, said it best. Yes, he told us to not focus on the splinter in our brother’s eye, but the log in our own. Even more to the point,
“Come and hear. All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” (Mark 7:14-15)
Today is the day to remember. Today is the day to carry love forward.