Stronger With Love
My first response was lament. As a former resident of Pittsburgh I know the Squirrel Hill area well. Saturday morning was a sad day and I was glued to the news reports of a community I knew and loved.
I joined the thousands of people across the country and around the world who mourn the murder of eleven Jews who were worshiping. Individuals have responded with outrage that someone would even consider aiming a gun at another living person and the challenge of confronting the hate that still lives among us. Others respond with overwhelming grief for the loss of life that is paralyzing. And then there are those standing together with signs saying “Stronger than Hate.”
I went to Pittsburgh for seminary and I learned to love the city that thrives on sporting events (the mood of the day after a Penguin, Steeler or Pirate game changes based on the win or loss). A community that holds onto their identities through neighborhoods while still being welcoming to their neighbors.
But this isn’t always easy. They have fought hard to live in equality. Are challenged as they move through seasons of racism. And the financial gap grows between neighborhoods causing disagreements.
Like many, I have asked what Mr. Rogers might say as a neighbor to this Jewish community and good Presbyterian. I am sure he would be saddened by this event and he might suggest to “look for the helpers.” A well-known line that Mr. Rogers often said during tragedy. The rescue workers and police officers who put themselves in harm’s way to help. A sign that something good is happening in the midst of the tragedy.
Jesus said the “Greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. The second is to Love your neighbor as Yourself.”
In the midst of this tragedy we are reminded that we are called to live differently—to live with love. To love our God who loves us all equally. Who doesn’t see Jew or Greek, Slave or Free, who doesn’t see black or white. God invites us to love.
We are invited to show our love to our Jewish brothers and sisters. To love our literal neighbors, the neighbors we like and the ones we don’t, and the ones in Pittsburgh grieving for their loved ones and the ones here. We do it with love. This is our opportunity to share with the world what it means to truly love.
To love beyond the fear.
To love beyond ourselves or the safety of our own home.
To love with grace and forgiveness.
To love with the call to peace.
To love with hope that things will be different.
To love each other no matter the differences we have.