Posts Tagged ‘Interfaith’

The Blessing Community

August 4, 2018

On May 3rd, 2018 the Kilauea Volcanic Eruption began spewing lava and rocks into people’s backyards in Puna. Over the ensuing weeks lava flowed over houses, roads, and entire neighborhoods. Thousands were displaced.

Kilauea-volcan-fissure-8-lava-fountainThe eruption continues. There is no end in sight. Land and memories continue to be consumed by lava. People are hurt, mourning, and desperately in need of way forward, a path towards recovery.  However, you can’t rebuild during an ongoing disaster or in the middle of an active lava field.

All of this is stressful. It is stressful on the people whose houses have been destroyed, some of whom are still living in emergency shelters. It is stressful on those who live near the eruption and are dealing with bad air and contaminated water. It is stressful on government, non-profits, and churches who are called on to offer hope and help.

Hope is in short supply at the moment. Help is not. The local communities of faith, who have been working over the last few years to address family homelessness, are taking action. Buddhists, Mormons, Unitarian Universalists, Jews, Protestants, and Catholics are all working together to provide volunteers, meals, relief supplies, pastoral care, temporary shelter, housing, and more to those impacted by the disaster.

Full recovery from this disaster lies many years into the future. There are no quick fixes. Most victims will never return to their homes, which are buried in an active lava field. Victims are stuck waiting and feeling hopeless while government and others work on a recovery plan.

What hope exist is found in the inter-religious cooperation of our faith communities. Their prayerful action and deep faith provides inspiration during these difficulty times. Their willingness to set aside differences in order to respond effectively to suffering is the living reality of a Blessing Community.

Eventually, a recovery plan will come together. It won’t be perfect. Some will be able to rebuild and start anew. Others will struggle. A few will never recover.

People of faith can’t do everything. However, when they work together they can offer hope and healing — Blessing — to all, even in the most difficult of situations.

Peace, Paul

Photo: Public Domain Photo from USGS

Praying for Peace

June 18, 2016

In response to the recent shooting at a club in Orlando, our local Interfaith group organized a Prayer Vigil. It was put together very quickly, a testament to the trust and cooperative nature of our diverse religious community.

Prayer Vigil- GroupPersonally, I am a bit skeptical of prayer vigils. Often it feels as though we use prayer as an excuse for not doing the hard work of addressing social ills and injustices. If, for example, we pray for peace because we truly want peace, then our prayers must be those of action to end violence and warfare. We cannot expect peace to miraculously fall from the sky and settle upon the earth. War and violence are the fruit of human action. We, therefore, must be the ones to overcome it. No amount of wishing and praying for peace – devoid of action – will end war.

Nevertheless, as an active member of out Interfaith coalition, I joined in the planning and performance of the service. It was a simple affair, held at local church, and attended by sixty or so individuals.The names and ages of the victims were read by individual attendees. After hearing the name, the congregation responded with, “May you be at peace.” I then sounded a bell, and a candle was lit for victim named. There were music and prayers from local clergy. It was a beautiful ceremony. Though focused on the bell, caught up in details of the service, I was touched by a deep sense of peace and well-being.

Our little ceremony did nothing to address war, gun violence, bigotry, or hatred. It did, however, offer healing. Each person in attendance had been touched by the violence in Orlando. The service offered them the opportunity to share their grief with others, many of whom were strangers. In our our shared witness to the brokenness caused by violence, we – surprisingly – found solace and peace.

There is still violence in the world. But for a short time, on a Wednesday night, we were able to connect with others and find the strength and hope to live faith-filled lives in response to senseless violence and undeserved suffering.

Peace, Paul

Photo: Some of the members of the “Interfaith Communities in Action.”