Despite all of the blessing that this nation of ours has to offer, these are distressing times. In less then 24 hours we had a mass shooting in two cities. While many will debate the cause and solution to preventing further incidents, I believe that an undeniable contributing factor is any understanding of one group being superior to another and other groups being a threat.
I believe in the truth revealed in the creation story in Genesis that we are all are created in the very image of God. I believe in the teachings of Judaism and Christianity that we have an obligation to extend hospitality to the stranger, to extend a helping hand to those who are in need.
Jesus when asked by a lawyer, who his neighbor was that he was required to love, shared the story of the Good Samaritan. One who was considered an outcast to be avoided at all costs, a Samaritan became the hero of the story. Jesus reinforced this idea of accepting all by seeking God’s forgiveness for those who crucified him.
Finally, the irony is that our identity as a nation has been shaped by the contributions of a multitude of different ethnic groups. In my own history I can count the contribution of numerous ethnic groups who have contributed to who I am. I would have been the poorer if I had limited my interactions to those who looked like me and claimed a similar heritage.
We need as individuals, organizations, and our nation to oppose all rhetoric and actions which seek to demonize any group based on ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. We need to find ways to expand the circle of those we interact with to include those different from us. We need to be willing to listen to one another and learn from one another.
I am proud to be able to affirm the two congregations that I serve are trying to live out this by welcoming all to join us for worship and participate in all our programs including attending our administrative meetings.
For more information contact Rev. David E. Smith, Pastor — [email protected], 518-572-4051, 422 Sand Creek Rd, Apt 317, Albany, NY 12205.