Reflections on Faith and Community

Dear friends,

In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.

Andrew S. Odom
Pastor

10/29/2018 9:49 PM

Restore Us

10/29/2018 9:49 PM
10/29/2018 9:49 PM

Restore us, O God. Let your face shine, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:3)

This seems like the right line, the right prayer, the right posture. I can’t begin to imagine how the families of those shot on Saturday at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh are handling this: deep grief, deep loss, renewed sorrow from the past. One of the victims was a holocaust survivor. Did you know that? To say one’s heart aches barely even scratches the surface. Restore us, O God. Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

I grew up in a neighborhood with a large Jewish community. We were all friends. People jokingly referred to my school, Hillcrest High School, as Hebrew High. It all seemed innocent at the time, just a playful phrase. I don’t think so now. When we were kids, we would banter back and forth with Jewish and Gentile jokes. We thought it was all in good fun. I don’t think that way now. No, I think of my friends in the wake of this weekend, and I wonder how they are doing. I wonder what kinds of seeds were being planted back then. What kind of world were we helping foster? Restore us, O God. Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

It has become clear to me now that the years of my ministry will be littered with these kinds of horrors, and I readily admit that I don’t feel equipped to face it. Does anyone? And then I watched the news as Rabbi Jeffrey Myers spoke about how much love they have already received from people of all religions: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and others. “Love is how we beat hate,” I heard him say. How was he able to say something like that so quickly? I also read how one of the nurses taking care of the shooter in the hospital was herself Jewish. How could she do that? How is that possible? Pictures like these stick out in my mind as examples of the immediacy of the presence of God in the midst of pain and anguish and evil. When we say, “Restore us, O God. Let your face shine, that we may be saved,” God shows us people like that and says, “I am.”

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