We are all God’s children

Published 2:10 am Saturday, August 11, 2012

By The Rev. Cindy Howard

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

Last Sunday, I was shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee.

Violence toward any place of worship is always a tragedy, but here lives were lost, making it doubly tragic.

Then on Monday, I heard the mosque in Joplin, Mo., had burned to the ground. While authorities are still investigating whether the fire was arson, shortly after the fire they were already calling it “suspicious.” A few weeks ago, someone set fire to the mosque, causing minor damage. Even though there is a clear videotape of the person as he set the fire, that person has still not been apprehended.

Many of you may know that I grew up near Joplin. My family attended church there. I went to college there. I watched first with horror and then pride as Joplin suffered a devastating tornado last May, came together, and began to recover.

If indeed the fire early Monday morning at Joplin’s mosque was arson, how could this be? Interestingly, this mosque had hosted workers from AmeriCorps, Catholic Charities, and other groups who came to help after the tornado.

I have to admit that my spirit was little down after Sunday’s and Monday’s news.

Then, on Tuesday I read an article from my hometown newspaper, The Carthage Press. It described how the faith community was supporting the members of that burned mosque. I read the words of two friends who had attended a dinner at the mosque only 48 hours before the fire, as they offered to help the members of the mosque in any way they could.

On Wednesday evening, members of several Christian churches and the local Jewish congregation joined members of the mosque for an interfaith iftar meal, breaking the Ramadan fast of the daylight hours, at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Joplin, the church where my friends who had offered help are the priest and an active layperson.

We are all God’s children. When we look into each other’s faces, we can see the very image of God if our eyes are open to see it.

O God, you made us in your own image…take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth…(The Book of Common Prayer).