Once again as I was writing my blog for today it was interrupted by the reports of another tragedy, another shooting, more lives lost, more people devastated. Our hearts go out to all the families and friends of those involved.
A targeted attack on Jewish people happening in 2018 is a cause for great concern. Surely society should be beyond that kind of hatred. It is, indeed, a sad day. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope for the future in the response of those leading the spontaneous vigil that ensued.
Speaking at the vigil, Rev. Vincent Kolb from the nearby Presbyterian church declared, “We gather because we are heartbroken but also to show zero tolerance for anti-Semitic speech, anti-Semitic behavior and anti-Semitic violence.”
He was joined by Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, who acknowledged how angry people were feeling. He read a verse from the Koran that says the way to respond to an evil deed is with a better deed. The Muslim community had already raised $15,000 for the Jewish community. (From reports in various newspapers)
They were joined by others who spoke out against the violence. In these days and times, it is important to speak out against violence and injustice, refusing to remain silent.
The lectionary passage for today is the story of Bartimaeus who was blind (Mark 10:46-52). As I read the text the point that stood out to me was that Bartimaeus refused to be silent. Bartimaeus persisted!
In the tale the issue was blindness, Bartimaeus needed sight. Bartimaeus cried out but was told to be quiet. The text even uses the word “sternly”. It wasn’t just a mild reprimand but a serious rebuke. But Bartimaeus refused to be silent and ignored those opposing him. He persisted. The text records that Bartimaeus cried even more loudly. Ultimately that caused him to get what he needed and sight was restored.
As I read the story I felt its relevance for contemporary times serving as a good illustration. Daily I read and see multiple needs and multiple injustices. People hating others because they are different. I am thankful that there are people like Bartimaeus who refuse to be silent. There are currently so many issues that need to be spoken out against. Yesterday, was a sad reminder that anti-semitism is still on that list.
Maybe a new catchphrase could be the “Bartimaeus generation”! People for whom silence isn’t an option. People who refuse to remain quiet when an injustice is seen. People who will shout even louder when told to be quiet. People who will keep shouting until change happens.
Maybe Lindisfarne community will be part of that Bartimaeus generation.