By Terry Brown of Pidgeon, MI, USA
Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then [Jesus] said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” —Luke 7:47–48 NRSV, adapted
It was a normal Sunday morning at church as I prepared to deliver a sermon. To the concerns for prayer, the presiding minister added the people of Orlando, Florida. A tragic mass killing had taken place during the night. My heart skipped a beat. Our son Christopher lives in Orlando. Without having heard any news, I felt a tinge of fear. What were the odds that my son was a victim? Minimal at best—still, I didn’t know any of the details.
There were other parents who also wondered. Probably at first they, like myself, were thinking, “What are the chances our child was harmed?” For some, they wouldn’t know for sure until hours or days later.
I based my sermon on the story in Luke (Luke 7:36—8:3) about the unwelcome sinful woman who intruded at Simon the Pharisee’s dinner for Jesus and local dignitaries. She gave everything she had to the one who recognized her as worthy. The one who accepted her as equal to all others forgave her. But Simon took offense that she would dare think she could join the group. He was upset with Jesus, who allowed such a woman, such a sinner to touch him.
When the service was over, I immediately texted my son. “Please let me know you and those you care about are safe.” When I learned Chris was okay, I turned on the radio and learned more of the horrendous act.
It happened at a bar where gays gathered to celebrate. Investigators found that the shooter hated gay people and their showing of affection. We also learned that he had interest in extremist propaganda.
In many ways, what happens to one of us happens to all of us. If it is the season to vote for governmental leaders in your country, consider supporting people and policies that unite and not divide. Just as Jesus saw worth in the sinner, we too can discover the divine connections that bind us as a people. We can understand the best way to prevent hateful feelings and acts is to become more radical as peace makers. We can overcome hate with the love of those who challenge our beliefs, realizing that we are equally loved in the eyes of our common Creator.
Prayer for Peace
Loving God, help us love so strongly, that no one will have a defense against it. Help us listen so carefully, that no cry is unheard. Help us respond to injustice so fully, that peace will be unpreventable. Help us be radical peacemakers.
Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle.
Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “challenging” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep us from loving one another.
Today, God…especially today, God, I will try to show that love will overcome hate.