The Rabbi's Response

We are either motivated out of fear or out of love. It is within these two that we live our lives.

The foundation of love is centered on the fact that I am unconditionally, deeply, sacrificially and extravagantly loved by a God who did whatever it took so that I could know Him. We all are loved by Him in this way. Let me say it again... we all are loved by Him in this way.

The sandy steps of fear are what I teeter on when my insecurities and fight-or-flights arise and I react. The aftermath of these choices is nothing short of chaos. Undulations of chaos.

Like aftershocks in an earthquake.

We are in the aftershocks. Both fear and love are calling us.

Fear says to not say anything. It also says that if we say something, it has to do with pointing fingers.

Love says to weep with those who weep, to feel deep compassion over the hurting, and to be present with the process. It is never dismissive.

So here I am—aching with this nation, with the marginalized, with those who have loved and lost. I am praying deep, belly-prayers; Why, Jesus, are we eating each other alive? Will You help us? Will You do the mind-transformations that only You can? Draw so near. Be so near.

My Rabbi wept for a broken nation, too.

“And when he drew near and saw the city [of Jerusalem], he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you…'”

He wept over the battles that had and would take place in the city of His people, in Jeru-Salem, in the City of Peace. He wept over a marginalized people, He wept over violence, He wept over sin. They were a flock without a Shepherd.

In Isaiah 40, God's heart for His people speaks:

“Comfort, comfort  my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity is pardoned…

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”

When I stand on faultlines of fear, I want to find someone responsible for the terrors that have occurred recently, but when I rest in the One who weeps with those who weep, I know that His heart is grieved, too. This is not His design, but is the result of rampant desperation for self-protection and control. He weeps over violence as the One who suffered violence on our behalf.

He is not unfamiliar with what has been happening. Knowing His heart, I weep for a nation who feels the ramifications of sin every day in the forms of violence, anger, and outrage.

Fear must have an alternative, and this stark-contrasting alternative is love. So beyond the weeping, I continue to pray. I speak encouragement and strength. I look for opportunities to love deeply and radically and secretly.

Love is more than hugs and sparkles and Hallmark cards. My Rabbi’s love brought Him to the cross on my behalf—on behalf of the whole world!—that He might defeat the powers of the grave that separate Him from us. The actions of the Messiah who wept for His nation brought ultimate peace.

There is a song that has been stuck in my head the past several days, and it is rooted in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I cannot stop singing this over my home, over my church, over this nation, over the Church. We must be His instruments of peace.

            Lord, make us instruments of Your peace.

            Where there is hatred, let Your love increase

            Lord, make us instruments of Your peace.

            Walls of pride and prejudice shall cease

            When we are Your instruments of peace.

 

Where there is hatred

We will show His love

Where there is injury

We will never judge

Where there is striving

We will speak His peace

To the people crying for release

We will be His instruments of peace

 

Where there is blindness

We will pray for sight

Where there is darkness

We will shine His light

Where there is sadness

We will bear their grief

To the millions crying for release

We will be His instruments of peace

 

Jesus, will You teach us to be instruments of Peace?

 

kate johnson

Southern California