April 17, 2014

Loving Our Neighbor

            I have just returned from a service of unity and hope, which was offered by the Rabbinical Association of Greater Kansas City in partnership with clergy from the larger community.  It was a profound time at the Jewish Community Campus, the site of violence this past Sunday.  Not only did we remember the three who were gunned down, but we also strengthened our bonds as persons of faith.

            The religious communities were in fully display: Rabbis in their yarmulkes; Sikhs in their turbans; Muslim women in their hijabs; clergy with and without collars; pastors in robes and stoles; and many others of us.  The large theatre could not hold all of us; other large meeting rooms were full, also.
            I encountered Central students, our graduates, and a board member in the gathering.  In addition, I was able to greet faculty members from varied institutions.  The solemnity of the occasion was palpable, and those who spoke showed great theological sensitivity to the diversity of faith traditions.
            One speaker remarked: “Many expected an explosion in our community after this violence.  There was an explosion—of love!”  The power of love to overcome hate was a common thread among the speakers.  Eric Holder, Attorney General, spoke of the significance of accompanying one another in displacing evil with good.
            Most apt were the haunting words of Psalm 130:
            Out of the depths I cry to you,
                        O Lord,
                 Lord, hear my voice!
            Let your ears be attentive
               to the voice of my supplications.    
            The prelude of violin and flute called us to quiet our hearts, and the solo by Millie Edwards called us to prayer, and the Hebrew song (led by Cantor Sharon Kohn) called us to express our grief communally.  Music offers a medium that transcends words, and the poignancy of these selections conveyed what we could not voice.
            Maundy Thursday in Holy Week summons us to listen to these words of Jesus: “I give you a new commandment (mandatum), that you love one another.”  He was summoning them to embody the same love he had as he washed feet.

            Yet, the commandment is ancient, also.  Leviticus 19:18 instructs: “thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.”  This is the heart of our common faith, and God breathes holy intent through this simple word of guidance.  Our community made strides in that direction today.

            Molly T. Marshall

             Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.

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