The recent attacks and mass killings at houses of worship have created lots of anxiety. How do we respond as communities of faith? The Fairfax County Clergy and Leadership Council recently held an event where we addressed this, and people from the police department gave advice on tightening security. Sure, we will want to take prudent safety measures, but living in a climate of fear only plays into the hands of those who perpetuate violence. We will also want to take proactive measures in working for peace in the way of Jesus. One such initiative was the Interfaith Friendship Walk in the City of Fairfax that our church recently participated in.
In Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, he stops and weeps over the city because they do not know the things that make for peace. Jesus also weeps for us and our country. Jesus models the way of peace with his humble, servant leadership. This reflects the heart of God and ushers in a dramatic cosmic shift that involves the whole creation. The very stones would cry out if his followers would remain silent and stop celebrating.
Like a congregation of barnyard geese, we can regale ourselves with stories of how far our ancestors had flown. But such remembering becomes perverse if it reinforces our present complacency and keeps us from being alert to present realities, being responsive to new opportunities, and from the potential for growth into yet-unrealized possibilities.
Some religious leaders were accusing Jesus of hanging out with some dodgy characters. Relating to such people as objects of our evangelism or social concern is one thing but partying and eating with them indicates an unsavory social acceptance of them. Jesus counters with three parables of rejoicing and celebrating because the lost has been found. Like the prodigal son, perhaps we all need to leave home in order to find ourselves.
Child dedication services are special because blessing a child puts us in touch with a divine mystery. The divine, which we name as “God” is not something that can be proved with airtight, rational arguments. There’s always a gulf between the divine mystery and our limited ability to comprehend and explain. Instead, as theologian Bryan Stone explains, “When truth and goodness are connected to beauty, faith comes alive.”