Rise & Shine - November 04
Different Faiths, Same Humanity
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's discussion outline can be read or downloaded below.
Rise & Shine, November 4th
Luke 6:27-28, 31
[Jesus said,] "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. … Do to others as you would have them do to you. (For context, read 6:22-23, 27-36.)
Questions: We exist in a society of many traditions, cultures, races, and religions. However, we all share a common humanity. How has the recent news shaken you? How does our shared humanity allow us to lift one another?
In the News
Nation Shaken in Wake of Multiple Hate Crimes in Less Than a Week
Eleven people were gunned down by a known anti-Semitic man as they were assembled for a Shabbat bris (Sabbath ceremony for a baby boy) at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, October 27. The dead ranged in age from 54 to 97. Six others were injured in the attack, including four police officers who responded to the 911 alert. In the ensuing battle, the suspect was wounded and taken into custody.
According to investigators, the 56-year-old alleged murderer shouted "All Jews must die!" during the 20-minute rampage. On a social network often associated with white supremacists and extremists, he used slurs for Jews, asserted that the Holocaust was a hoax, and promoted conspiracy theories about Jews destroying the planet, fueling mass migration of "invaders that kill our people," and manipulating the president, whose daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. Shortly before the shooting, he posted online that he couldn't "sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in."
On Wednesday, October 24, a 51-year-old armed white man pounded on the locked door of the predominantly black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, Kentucky. When he could not gain admittance, he went to a Kroger, where he allegedly shot and killed two African-Americans. The suspect, who is in custody facing multiple charges, reportedly has a long criminal record of domestic violence and a history of making racist slurs and threats.
Two days before, the nation was shaken by the discovery of the first of at least 15 pipe bombs sent through the mail to two former presidents, a Jewish billionaire philanthropist, prominent Democratic politicians, and activists who oppose the policies of the current president of the United States. None of the devices detonated and no one was injured, but authorities say the danger they posed was real. The alleged perpetrator of the pipe-bomb attacks, who self-identified as a white supremacist, was arrested last Friday.
"There is a growing space in this country for hate speech and hate speech always turns into hate action," Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), said. "We cannot stand by as individuals or organizations or as governments when people spew hatred against Jews, refugees, Latinos, against any group that some see as 'the other.'"
According to the Anti-Defamation League, reports of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased 57% between 2016 and 2017. Last Saturday's massacre was the worst attack in history on Jews in America.
"As Jews, we know that when one minority is threatened, we are all threatened," said Gavriela Geller, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee of Greater Kansas City. "We are stronger when we stand together against hatred and bigotry wherever we see it, and we reaffirm our commitment to supporting our partners and friends from all faiths, races, and nationalities."
"What do we do?" asked Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Florida. "We double down. We lean in. We affirm our values. We affirm the centrality of the synagogue in the lives of Jews. "Rather than be afraid of bringing ourselves and our children to synagogue, let us triple our efforts to do so. Maintain your membership in the Jewish community. Your presence is a fist that you shake in the face of the haters."
Rabbi Chuck Diamond, a former rabbi of Tree of Life, told a local CBS affiliate: "There's hate in this world, but … we just have to try to be tolerant. Because of the hate, we have to fight hate by doing good things."
Dr. Jeff Cohen, a member of Tree of Life, supervised the medical care Allegheny General Hospital provided for the man accused of shooting members of his congregation. Many of the staff who tended to his wounds are also Jewish, Cohen said. "My job isn't to judge him," he added. "My job is to take care of him."
There is a Hebrew principle in Judaism known as Tikkun olam, which means "repair of the world." Now is a good time for us all to embrace this principle by acting constructively for the common good, not only for our own benefit.
More on this story can be found at these links:
11 People Were Gunned Down at a Pittsburgh Synagogue. Here Are Their Stories.CNN
72 Hours in America: Three Hate-filled Crimes. Three Hate-filled Suspects.CNN
Why Pittsburgh Matters.Religion News Service
Going to Church Yesterday as a Christian Who Was Raised Jewish.The Christian Century
Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Targeted Jews and America's Soul.KDKA2 CBS Pittsburgh
Here are some Bible verses to guide your discussion:
The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. (For context, read 4:1-15.)
Cain and Abel worshiped God in different ways (vv. 3-5). God accepted Abel's offering, but not Cain's. The elder brother seethed with rage.God warned Cain about the danger of harboring anger against his brother.
Rather than deal with his own issues, Cain blamed Abel for what was wrong between himself and God, and his hatred boiled over into violence.
Questions: Have you ever felt God holding you responsible for your attitudes and actions? If so, what was that experience like?
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again." (For context, read 8:3-11.)
Jesus’s answer to the authorities trying to trap him wasn't the kind of answer they expected. Instead of condemning a woman accused of adultery to death, his answer forced her accusers to examine their own lives to discover whether they were qualified to pass judgment upon her.
Question: What can we learn from Jesus' example that can help us turn away wrath and tone down hate speech?
For several days [Saul] was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." All who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?" Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. (For context, read 9:13-31.)
"Jesus does not embody a love, a grace, or a peace that is flimsy, hollow, thin, or cheap," wrote Delonte Gholston, pastor of Peace Fellowship Church in Washington, D.C.. "A Jesus kind of love is messy, reckless, lavish, costly, and foolish to the world. It makes enemies friends and often makes so-called friends enemies in the name of love. The love of Jesus … converts Saul, a killer, into a protector, pastor, and deep lover of those he used to hunt, imprison and kill."
Questions: Has your faith led you to develop a friendship with someone you never would have expected to trust, love or respect? What role did your faith play in the development of that friendship?
Prayer for an Election (BCP p.822)
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers
and privileges: Guide the people of the United States and the
Greater Cincinnati area in the election of officials and representatives;
that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of
all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your
purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.