by Lee Hull Moses
I had the honor of speaking at the Guilford County Rally Against Hate and Violence held at Temple Emanuel here in Greensboro last night. The rally was held in response to the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last weekend. Several thousand people packed the sanctuary, from all corners of our community. It was a beautiful sight. Here’s what I said:
At times like these, we try to find words when there are no words. We try to find ways to speak about the unspeakable.
We turn to words of prayer, and ancient words of scripture, words of lament and anger and sorrow and grief. We read about swords beaten into plowshares and we pray for peace when there is no peace.
I’ve been thinking a lot about words and about that story of the very beginning when there is nothing but the breath of God over the face of the deep, and God speaks the world into being with a word about light.
We long so desperately now for God to speak a new world into being, to recreate this world with a word and a light that shines in the darkness.
And I wonder what kind of world we are creating with our words.
When the response to violence is to call for more guns
When condemnation against bigotry is anything but swift and unequivocal
When words are used to mock and divide
When words are used to stir up fear and convince us that danger lurks around every corner and across every border…
I wonder what kind of world we are creating with our words.
Words matter. It matters, the words we use when we talk to each other. It matters, the words we use when we talk about each other. It matters, what we say, now, at this moment in history when it seems that evil is gaining ground on us.
It matters what our leaders say, the ones we are supposed to look up to, the ones our children are watching. It matters if they speak of fear or of peace, of danger or of love.
It matters if our leaders are silent in this moment, if they use no words at all.
Because there are, in fact, words for times such as these. There are strong words that condemn hate and violence. There are words that name antisemitism for the sin that it is. There are words of confession from those of us who have been silent for too long.
And there are words of love and kindness
Words of generosity and care
Words of grace and justice
Words of trust and friendship
Words of invitation and welcome
Words of hospitality and hope
These are the words that will rebuild our world.
God speaks, and there is light, and the world is made new.
May it be so.