Monday 29th October
Dear People of God,
Let us join our hearts and prayers with people from every creed, race and nation in holding before God the victims of Saturday’s shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and those whose lives have been shattered by this tragedy. David and Cecil, Sylvan and Bernice, Joyce, Richard, Jerry, Daniel, Melvin, Irving, and Rose were cherished by their families, well respected in their communities, beloved of God, made in God’s own image and likeness.
Like us they sought solace in their time of worship, in the sanctuary which they knew to be a holy place of prayer and fellowship where God always was with them. In a few short minutes that changed from being a place and time of safety to a time of fear, where the last words each child of God heard were words of hatred.
We join our voices with people from every creed, race and nation in condemning Saturday’s shooting and are outraged at this violent act of hatred.
As happens so often in these tragic circumstances, those most deeply affected become our teachers. Speaking at a vigil for the community, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue said that his holy place has been defiled, and that his community will rebuild. “Words of hate are unwelcome in Pittsburgh,” he said.
Rabbi Myers turned to the 23rd Psalm to find comfort. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Then, in a voice full of anger he said, “Well God, I want. What I want what you cannot give me. You cannot return these 11 beautiful souls. You can’t rewind the clock”
He wondered how he could rectify his dilemma with the Psalm as it says, “You shall not want.” He kept on reading the Psalm and came to the place where the psalmist says, “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” He then described how his texts, emails, amd face book page are overflowing with messages of love from strangers and people he’s never met from around the world. Messages of love from Jews, Christians and Muslims pouring in, all with the same message that they are here for him and his community.
“That,” says Rabbi Myers, “Is how you defeat hate.”
In our words and actions, let us do our part in anointing this broken world with the oil of love that hatred may be overcome.
In the peace of God which passes all understanding,
Chancellor of Thorneloe University at Laurentian
Archbishop of Algoma and Moosonee
Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario.