United In the Dust

United In the Dust

On Monday evening I had the privilege to worship with almost 20 of my clergy colleagues and over 600 attendees in Heckscher Park. The “We Stand United In Love,” prayer service honored the sacrifices of 9/11 by dedicating ourselves to build a more loving community and to resist hate groups. The most enduring image for me was given by Sydney Martin, a retired New York City firefighter who was part of a hazmat team that worked at the trade center site after the attacks. He said that after the attacks everyone was so covered in the grey dust that they all looked the same. The tragedy erased all our differences and made everyone the same in their loss and in their commitment to help. This inspirational hero urged us to serve our communities in the same inclusive way, seeing the value in all God’s children.

It will, of course, take much more than one prayer service to begin to counter the rise of white nationalism and neo-Nazi groups in our country, but this event was a shining example of the desire to build the beloved community. It was particularly impressive for the clergy on the stage as the spotlights were so bright we could not see anything beyond the front of the stage. That is until the audience members starting lighting their candles for the closing prayer and song. What started as a few little lights in the darkness became a sea of bright shining stars that transformed the night. So too each of our congregations is a small candle, but together we may light the way to a better future.

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