Thursday, January 14, 2016

Affirming And Celebrating The Dream Of Shalom/Salem/Peace/Reconciliation

Community "People's Day" at Emmanuel Episcopal 1/18/16
"He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance... Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody."  
(Ephesians 2, the Message)

On Monday at 11:30 people from all over the community will be gathering in the parking lot of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church on the corner of Main Street and Martin Luther King, Jr., Way. There they will hear the well known "I Have A Dream" speech, walk together to Memorial Hall (former Harrisonburg High School building) and then return to enjoy a community meeting and potluck meal at the church.

The vision of both ancient and contemporary prophets has been of a world blessed with shalom, or salem, in which "nothing is marred and nothing is missing". Their constant theme has been that someday soon all barriers will be broken down, all enmities resolved and all hunger and want banished.

This is certainly far from a reality today, but it remains a dream that people of faith and goodwill affirm as being "too good not to be true", a dream they intend to boldly announce, live by and celebrate no matter what the cost or what the consequence.

Salem, or shalom, is not just the absence of war and violence, but the presence of spiritual and emotional wholeness, relational and family harmony, community and international health, and physical and even financial wellbeing. And it is not the kind of peace that can be fully experienced by an individual alone. Personal salvation is a necessary first step, but our full deliverance will come when all of humanity the world over is saved from the effects of evil and brokenness.

Here is a copy of the the Interfaith Association's recent statement that will be available for signatures Monday, along with an opportunity to help pay for a full-page ad in the Daily News-Record:


The organizations and individuals endorsing this statement are deeply saddened by the recent hatred expressed toward immigrants by citizens emboldened by presidential candidates and amplified by media outlets. We are deeply saddened by the violence that is taking place at home and abroad. We desperately need a productive public struggle over our different ethical and social choices. Productive politics can only happen within a commitment to live together in respect.

It is time to stop and recover our shared values. We are a nation of immigrants of different cultural, linguistic, and religious backgrounds, which makes our communities rich, diverse, and productive. Our community of Harrisonburg and Rockingham has a long lasting history of welcoming immigrants and celebrating the role that everyone contributes to our society, and we will not lose our souls to hate. Our call is not only to pray, but also to educate and engage in loving one another, as is the mandate of all of our faith communities.

We would like to let our community know that we intend to work together to stop religious intolerance, bigotry, religious discrimination, and fear of strangers from taking over the hearts of our institutions and members of our community.

We add our voice to the call of many others in the country who seek to promote common understanding, to love our neighbor, to dialogue with those who are different from us, to recognize and celebrate our differences, and to demand that our political parties return to civil discourse in society.

Post Office Box 964
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22803

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