Monday night I attended a prayer vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue at a local synagogue here in Des Moines. I know our Jewish brothers and sisters were overwhelmed by the support they received from so many in attendance. It was standing room only inside the building to the point that people stood outside practically surrounding the whole synagogue. It was a reminder that while it was one lone gunman filled with hate who committed this act of heinous anti- Semitism, the whole Des Moines religious community stood in solidarity with our Jewish friends.
There were amazing words spoken at this service. Words of sorrow and grief; calls to prayer and action; expressions of love and possibility. In these times of division and disunion, it was good to be reminded that we are all united in our shared commitment to create a better world together. In this service we sang songs and said prayers remembering the dead so that we could carry them with us into a future filled with life. I know I was uplifted and inspired to be a better person who looks into the eyes of fellow sisters and brothers and sees reflected there our shared humanity.
One person spoke of her struggle to make sense of the shooting. She shared the wise words of a Rabbi friend who told her hate never makes sense. Hate is not logical. This is so true. Yet, I am also struck by the reality that hope transcends hate. Hope changes such senseless acts into possibilities of compassion and caring leading to a different future. I was reminded of that standing in the synagogue Monday night.
On All Saints Sunday, November 4, our community will be remembering those who have entered into God’s embrace this past year and all the saints who we love and who have loved us. We recite a line in our communion liturgy where we affirm one day people shall gather from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and they shall gather together sharing in the love of God and of neighbor. On Monday night, I caught a glimpse of this hope standing with hundreds of others singing and praying. One of the refrains we sang was this:
May the source of strength,
Who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing, and let us say, Amen.