Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hatred Culminates in Tragic and Senseless Shooting

By now many of you have heard about the tragic shooting in the sanctuary of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN where two individuals were killed and seven wounded in a senseless shooting by a disturbed individual that targeted liberals.

I speak the names of Greg McKendry age 60 and Linda Kraeger age 61. May their deaths not be in vain. May we be reminded of the all too common scenarios that manifest when we allow twisted notions of hatred based on biases and discrimination to take root in our hearts againt others.

Memorial Service
First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park held a Memorial Service on Wednesday, July 30 to commemorate the lives of those killed and to pray for the injured. We sat outdoors with about thirty five individuals in the relentless heat of Chicago's summer in folding chairs on the beautiful lawn amidst the colorful flowers. Vehicles carrying passengers passed by while pedestrians made their way at the close of the day to their various destinations. Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger will never have the opportunity to greet friends, family and loved ones again at the conclusion of their day. They will never see the inside of a sanctuary in their beloved congregations where they were active members. Memorial services will be held in a few days in those very same sanctuaries where family, friends and loved ones will bid them farewell and ponder the tragedy that has taken their loved ones away so unexpectedly. When will we learn and when will it end?

The words spoken at the Memorial Service were comforting to me while at the same time they made me weep softly and sadly. So I offer them to you. May we continue to work toward a violence free world where we do not have to fear for our lives simply because of our religious or political beliefs:

In Gathering
We gather together at this time, we come together in this place,
We are drawn here, confounded and confused
By the terrible and fearful events of our days and years.
Once again, as so often,
In the face of senseless violence and meaningless chaos,
We are drawn together by our aching hearts.
We are bound together by our quest for peace-serving justice-serving ways.
We would be the promise-seekers, the promise-makers, the promise-keepers.
We seek ways that will lead us toward deeper understanding, broader compassion.
We seek ways toward greater service, strengthened resolve, wider unity.
We seek ways to resist the violence and overcome the chaos of our time.
We seek life-sustaining and life-serving ways,
Ways that lead toward peace, foregiveness, reconciliation
among peoples and nations.
Rev. Jim Hobart

Prayer Meditation
Life presence, Spirit of Love,
addressed by amny titles, and by none at all,
Known in nemerious ways and circumstances,
with us in life and in death,
We come in humility, and with heavy hearts
to these moments of mindful reflection, meditation and prayer.
We seek understanding. We strive for direction.
We are determined not to be ruled and silenced
by our all-too-real fears, anxieties and confusions.
Our living and aour dying are framed by the twin human capacities
for violent nihilism and courageous life-reverence.
Once again we are stunned by sensless violence and brutal killings,
Even as we know these are the lot of people across our city,
throughout our country, across the world.
At the very same moment, we are lifted up and inspired
by a person who sacrificed his own life to protect others, and by people who reiske dtheir own safety to stop the killings.
In this service, let us claim our inherent power to join in partneship
one with another.
Let us together fervently seek to act in harmony
With Creative Power, in concert with Creating Process
wich uphold the cosmos,
which sustain lie and loving ways,
which are the ground of our restless yearning and our greater vision.
This is our intent. This is our promise. This is our resolution. AMEN
written by Rev. Jim Hobart

Tonight, we remember all who suffer, all who are degraded,
all who perish through human acts and neglect.
Our thoughts and our prayers especially are directed
to adults and children in Knowxville,
who suffer in body and in spirit.
May we do our part to restore them to well-being.
Let us as well take our responsibility and our opportunity
to seek and find ways to reduce the world's suffering and grief.
In this spirit we come together. In this spirit we voice our fervent prayer.
written by Rev. Jim Hobart

Let us be ready to address the worst in life,
As we are prepared to serve the best in life.
On our many paths, this is our common work and destiny:
Reducing unnecessary suffering and death,
REsisting oppressing and humiliation,
Increasing the ways of justice and peace,
Serving love and compassion,
Discovering grace and joy,
Offering our heart-felt gratitude for and our generosity in response to
the precious gift of life.
Rev. Jim Hobart