A Devotion for the Third Sunday in August
“All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” (1 John 3:15-17)
I have been struggling this past week with the events of this country, with the events of the world.
I have been struggling with the rally in Charlottesville last weekend, even before the violence. I have been struggling with the mass demonstration of bigotry and hatred of the Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, openly marching and spewing hate-filled speech. And then the violence that happened as a young woman, standing for peace, was killed.
I have been struggling with the violence in Barcelona, as we see forces of hatred rear their ugly heads throughout the world.
And then I pray that I and we will have the courage to respond, because I have not seen that courage from our leadership.
If we become dismayed by what has been said and not been said, then we must be emboldened and empowered to be the voice we want to hear, that God indeed calls us to be.
If we are angry at the mass demonstrations of hate and prejudice, then we must be the ones who gather to be a witness to love and justice and peace.
But it will take more than words and gatherings and protests. It will take us every single day to go outside our comfort zones, to greet the stranger, to embrace those not like us. It will take me and us going beyond labels of Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative, male/female, gay/straight, rich/poor, black/white, immigrant/native-born, Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu/Jew, and seeing every person as a child loved by God, as a child of God. If I do not know “them,” then I am called to begin to know and listen and truly hear all of their stories.
As a closing prayer, we remember and sing and pray the words of a song from over 40 years ago, because the words apply as much today as they did then:

Let there be peace on earth.

And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father,
Brothers (and sisters) all are we.
Let me walk with my brother (and sister)
 In perfect harmony. Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor David-Armstrong-Reiner