A Pastoral Word as We Grieve with Our Muslim Neighbors

“But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”
Luke 10:29

This morning, we awakened to the news of yet another act of senseless violence in a place of worship. While the details are still unfolding, what seems clear is that at least 48 worshippers of all ages have been killed and at least 20 more injured in a coordinated attack on more than one mosque in New Zealand. While all the particulars may still not yet be known, one thing is abundantly clear – the mosques in New Zealand now join the churches in South Carolina and Texas and the synagogue in Pittsburgh (among other places known and unknown) as chilling reminders that the plague of hate continues to manifest across the world even in those spaces once considered sacred.

Most abominable in these acts is the apparent presumption in the minds of the perpetrators that their actions may somehow be justified by their following a different religious tradition than the victims of their violence, when all the major religious traditions of the world share some articulation of loving your neighbor as yourself as a foundational principle.

As we pray for our neighbors in New Zealand, both those grieving loved ones and those grieving the sense of living in a land where they were safe from such atrocities, may we redouble our commitment to being the ministers of reconciliation and messengers of the gospel of peace with the neighbors in our midst. May we allow the depth of the brokenness experienced through this event to infuse our reflections on our own lives and relationships this Lenten season so that we might indeed “think globally and act locally” – very locally—as we seek to more fully live out the love of God in Christ in our engagement with others in our families, churches, communities, and indeed, the world.