“I will appoint Peace as your overseer and Righteousness as your taskmaster. Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders.” - Isaiah 60:17b-18a
The end of January marks some important remembrance days about religious violence. We remember the Holocaust on January 27th. We also remember the shooting at the mosque in Quebec City on January 29th. We remember these horrific programs and events of the past to help us to live better in the present so that the future will not face such tragedies. So much violence in the world happens between people of different religions. As religious people, how can we promote peace?
How did Jesus treat people of different faiths during his earthly ministry? Jesus treated them with grace and love. We read on Sunday about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). On Sunday, I introduced the Scripture reading with an explanation of the violent ethnic and religious conflict between Samaritans and Jews. Jesus, a Jew, did not perpetuate this conflict, but diffused it in his conversation with the Samaritan woman. Jesus brought grace and love into his interaction with this woman from a different faith community. The conversation between the two of them was healing for them both: the Samaritan woman received living water, and Jesus received a safe place to stay for two days. Out of this conversation, they developed a meaningful relationship which led to a peaceful and reconciling experience for her entire town.
As we remember the Holocaust and the Quebec City mosque shooting, I encourage you to embody Jesus’ grace and love by making an effort to build a meaningful relationship with someone from another faith. This goes against the grain because it means stepping outside of our comfort zone. Even Jesus’ disciples thought he was strange for speaking to the Samaritan woman. When we make an effort to build a relationship with someone from another faith, God’s grace and love will overflow out of that relationship beyond what we could ask for or imagine. This is the first step towards peace across the divide of religion. It is healing for all and blesses the world.
Grace and peace, Rev. Sarina