From Keith Simmonds, President of the B.C. Conference of The United Church of Canada:
Events in the world in general, in the country to the south of us in particular, and at a mosque in Quebec City in awful detail, prompt me to write as the President of BC Conference to confirm the steps I am sure you are already taking. To confirm your instinct to reach out, to offer assurance, to stand with, to take your place alongside our friends and neighbours who count themselves, as we do, as sons and daughters of Abram and Sarai.
We have opened our communities, neighbourhoods and homes to our brothers and sisters in faith who, fleeing oppression, torture, destruction and war have made it to our cities and towns. We have celebrated their arrival among us and mourned with them as the news of each day makes clear the awful plight of those left behind and the complicity of our systems of power in the continuation of that plight.
While we struggle to build better systems and to require more accountability of those to whom we grant great power and privilege, we strive to build understanding and relationship on the ground of being, where we work, worship and live out the call to love. We have done much to build a more understanding and caring world and clearly, there is much more to do.
Many among us continue to live in fear. I am not referring to the Post Traumatic Stress suffered by so many of our recent arrivals. The children who hug the walls of their schools when a helicopter flies overhead, or the men and women who always look up when learning to drive in our cities because that’s where the snipers were located at home. Rather I refer to those who have been steeped in the fear of the ‘other’ and are motivated through that fear to bring death and destruction to those who have already suffered far too much of it.
I believe we can and will help fear become love through understanding and relationship, but until we do, we are called by Christ to stand with those who are bearing the brunt of fear.
I have all kinds of ideas about what we could do, but those are my ideas. I wonder what our friends might most appreciate and need? Perhaps each of us could reach out to our neighbours, let them know we stand with them and ask what would be helpful? Perhaps your congregation or Faith Community or Presbytery or network or neighbourhood association could ask too.
Let us sit with our friends in the communities of Islam and see what might be helpful. Let us raise our voices as one with theirs, while we seek out the fearful among us and do what we can to bring the peace of Christ into their lives and living.
I am so pleased to know I am writing well behind the ways in which you are already acting, but thought I’d take the opportunity to offer my thanksgiving and encouragement, along the Way.
Yours in Christ,
A Prayer for Love
Loving God, in whom we live and move and breathe and have our entire existence,
On this day we shudder in the wake of death dealt to our friends and neighbours as they worshiped in your holy place and called on you in love.
On this day we weep with those who weep. We are filled with the deep despair of a world and culture steeped in fear and hatred.
On this day we struggle to understand how our systems and arrangements of power, our political rhetoric and inability to bear witness to truth are complicit in new acts of discrimination, destruction and death.
On this day we seek, in you, the strength to stand with our neighbours, no matter the threat against them, On this day we seek, in you, the strength to speak truth to power, to insist on change, to offer love to those we fear On this day we seek, in you, the guidance, support, blessing and grace we need to go forward on the Way with Christ, Wherever his call to Love might take us.
Help us, Loving One, to be the people you inspire us to be.
On this day and all days,
Help us to be lamps on the journey out of fear and suffering and into love.