Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” --- Revelation 21: 1-4
Please join me in praying for the families of the deceased and the wounded in Christchurch, New Zealand, and our Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. Yesterday a gunmen opened fire on attendees of prayer services at Al Noor and Linwood mosques. As of this writing, 49 persons have died and many others are wounded.
The pain of such loss is unfathomable and unbearable. It is doubly hard to comprehend when it occurs in houses of worship. As we enter the doors of our sacred sanctuaries, we do not expect to be attacked. And yet, this tragedy is becoming all too common.
In the twinkling of an eye there is again death and wounding and pain and suffering. In an instant, more families are thrown into grief and mourning as they receive the unbearable call from authorities. Two communities are thrust into fear and dread as bloodshed takes place on their streets. And further still, an entire religion is targeted and preyed upon.
But, in all honesty, it did not happen in the twinkling of an eye. The hatred that led to these attacks does not arise in an instant. It takes years to form in the heart of a human being. It is nurtured by the rhetoric of privilege and superiority, supremacy and bias. This kind of hatred is only possible as a group of persons or a religion is “othered” as being ungodly or evil.
As we offer our prayers and condolences to the communities in Christchurch, may our Lenten reflection include a deep searching of our hearts for any traces of hatred, bias or discrimination toward any group or religion. During this season of preparation, repentance and fasting, let us ask God to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, and continue striving to see all life as sacred, precious and beloved.
Blessings and peace,
Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling