July 8, 2016
July 8, 2016
"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace..." (Luke 19:42a)
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." (Romans 15:7)
Dear Peacemakers of the Susquehanna Conference,
Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness, and Hope of the World!
Our hearts and prayers go to the families and the loved ones of the victims of injustice and violence in our nation. Our prayers also go to the communities and people directly affected. We are to remember that violence towards one is violence to all and an injustice to one is an injustice to the rest of us.
Recent events have once again shown us the deeply painful reality that faces our country. Just yesterday several police officers, who were trying to assure that a protest rally would be safe, were killed by snipers. The act of violence was despicable and must not be condoned. The rally was proceeded by a number of other incidents nationwide, particularly the most recent incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota where African-American civilians were shot and killed by police officers under questionable circumstances. There have been cries from the affected communities that there are too many incidents in which police officers use deadly force unjustifiably. The act of power abuse by authority is horrible and must not be tolerated.
These tragic occurrences remind us of the division, amplified by racism, that is deep and of the fear that is prevalent within us and in our communities. They tear the fabric of our country at its core. We know that the perpetrators of power abuse and violence are few and never represent their communities. The overwhelming majority of them are law abiding, peaceful, compassionate, and honorable people who are doing their part in building up the vision of a community of peace and justice. However, we must continue to learn and demonstrate, with more commitment and dedication than ever, the way to respect and honor the rights, the worth, and the integrity of every individual, regardless of race, color, national origin, political views, or religious faith.
I am reminded of the words of a hymn composed by the Rev. William W. Reid, Jr. Rev. Reid was a district superintendent, prisoner of war in World War II, and served in the former Wyoming Conference. In his hymn, O God of Every Nation, Rev. Reid writes:
"O God of every nation, of every race and land,
redeem your whole creation with your almighty
hand; Where hate and fear divide us, and bitter
threats are hurled, In love and mercy guide us,
and heal our strife-torn world (nation)."
May his words be our prayer as the United Methodists of the Susquehanna Conference.
I know that you will join me in praying this Sunday and for days to come. Let us join in fervent prayer for God's mercy to transform our strife-torn nation. We shall pray that our churches will reach out into our communities with a willingness to confront those issues that have led to so much of our hatreds, fears, and hurts and build bridges of healing and hope, justice and peace, and reconciliation and harmony. Please pray for the people of our nation, in every town and hamlet, in large cities and metropolitan areas, and in our very rural homes that every person is accepted as a child of God, is honored as a person of sacred worth who is created in God's own image, and thus is respected as an equal citizen of this great nation of human rights, freedom, and opportunity.
Jesus reminds us, "Blessed are those who make peace." We pray that, by God's grace, we will be empowered and move from not only yearning for peace to a real commitment to work for the beloved community of peace with justice.
Jeremiah J. Park
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