Church After the New Zealand Massacre
On Friday, March 15, 2019, a white supremacist terrorist murdered 50 Muslims while they prayed together in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Many more were injured physically. And yet many, many more, around the globe, were impacted emotionally. The world is grieving and in fear. Here in Bay Ridge we have a vibrant and large Arab and Muslim community. The day after the massacre felt dark.
After the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings, our Jewish neighbors, including myself, were held up in our community. As a Jew, I wanted to do the same for our Muslim friends. I reached out to local parents on our Facebook group and invited all who were grieving to come grieve with us
On Sunday morning we were blessed with the arrival of several Muslim families from the area who had been touched by the opening of our doors and wanted to come for a group hug and solidarity. It was an incredibly moving and touching morning. There was not a dry eye in the room as we all, including our new guests, stood and shared our pain. What was amazing was that the pain and fear seemed small compared to the resolution and bravery that these families had. What was even more amazing was that the opening of our doors, and our hearts, had given us all the sense that the good were winning, and that there is strength in our numbers.
Galations 6:2 says, “Carry one-another’s burdens. In this way you will be fulfilling Christ’s true meaning”. We here at Christ Central in Bay Ridge can carry the burden of our Muslim neighbors so that they can feel safe and without pain, if only for a moment. Nic spoke of “trust” in his sermon that day. He explained that the three pillars of trust are empathy, authenticity and logic. In order for our neighbors to trust one another we must put ourselves in their place. We must be open and authentic with them -- open our arms, ask questions-- and we must use our minds, and our hearts, to understand where their pain, fear –and anger-- is coming from. The same is true for God. We must use those pillars to truly understand and TRUST that God is good, and that even in these terrible times God is here grieving with us. There was no doubt that God was present in that room on Sunday. His love spread a bright light on what was otherwise a gruesome and painful weekend.
We are praying for the end of this racism, including Islamophobia. During these times we encourage you to give your trust to God. Be empathetic and authentic. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Tell them that you are here for them. Ask questions. Lend a hand. Or a hug. If you are grieving or afraid, tell someone. Come to us, our doors are always open to ALL.