During this Advent season I am focusing on the Psalms that are selected to accompany the other seasonal readings of Year B. Psalm 126 is one of my favorites, for it has allowed me to interpret past experiences of personal suffering through a prism of grace, which is God’s own faithfulness.
The Psalmist writes:May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
I return to this word of hope this morning for guidance and comfort as Kansas City deals with yet another hate crime. Only the promises of God can help us in such times.
This past Thursday a disturbed and angry man ran over a Somali teen, severing his legs. The fifteen year old later died. This occurred at a mosque where resettled Muslims from a war torn country worship and forge sustaining relationships in their new land. They came to the US to flee such violence, but hatred sabotaged their peace. Their community is bowed down with grief, weeping for this grievous loss. They are sowing tears.
The driver’s SUV displayed anti-Muslim graffiti, reading, “Quran is a virus disease (worse) than Ebola.” Clearly, he intended to do harm.
Many in our day sow seeds of hate, fearing the “other.” This is not only true of the rampant racism that stalks our nation, but is too often found in the religious sphere, also. The news report of this vicious attack suggests that the driver, supposedly a Christian, was seeking revenge against Muslims.
It is the responsibility of people of good will to bear seeds of hope, solidarity, and comfort for those who weep. Crimes like these awaken the larger community to the urgency of sowing peace through coming alongside our suffering neighbors.
Mahnaz Shabbir, an articulate leader in the Islamic community of Kansas City, invited me to attend the funeral. I regret that I was away when it occurred, for I would have been there. It is important that Christians build bridges to religious minorities for the sake of justice and reconciliation.
Advent illumines the promise that weeping will eventually turn to joy. Advent calls us to renew our commitment to follow the Prince of Peace, who draws near to all who weep. May God’s comfort assist this community as they seek to absorb this loss and, ultimately, be able to rejoice.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.