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It is July 21st as I write this article. It has been a month of fun and opportunities. There is much work ahead of us as a congregation, but God will walk with us.

On the other hand, it has also been a month too full of tragedy. People killed for no reason by terrorists, by those charged with upholding the law, by those whose anger has led them to the taking of life. How do we, as Christians, respond to all that has happened and unfortunately, may continue to happen? Currently, people are demanding that sides be taken to decide who is right and indicating who is wrong.

But what about a course based upon the message of the Gospel? Could we find wisdom to confront the problems we face? It is my prayer that it will be so.

Terrorists do not act rationally. By definition, they only act in order to create fear and confusion. Whatever their cause, it is only a smoke screen for the real goal of disrupting life as most of us live it. The motivation is that if we are afraid enough, we will change how we live our lives and begin to distrust everyone we meet and thus become the people we never wanted to be and the very people demonized by the terrorists.

We still live in a world where people are judged by their skin tone, their speech, their nationality, their gender and on and on ad nauseaum. Most of us are unaware when we do judge. We respond to triggers taught to us by our culture when we were young. Unless we have experienced that “judging the book by its cover,” we can live in ignorance of it taking place. We can no longer act as though people of color, from First Nation people, to Latino, and to African Americans, no longer are victims of prejudice. Yes, there are people of every nationality, skin hue, and language who are criminals, disturbed, violent, even evil. But Not All people.

The same is true of the brave men and women who don a uniform to protect and serve. The overwhelming majority respect the citizens they serve and treat them with dignity. But as in all professions, the only ones who grab the headlines are the ones that make bad choices and continue to make bad choices. Let us not demonize the people who daily do their jobs and never cross the line into violence just because we see others in the news doing terrible things.

Jesus taught his disciples to love and forgive. He challenges us to seek the heart of the person without judging the actions of that person until we see the full story of their life. We need to center ourselves in the stories of how Jesus received those that others wanted to cast aside. We need to hear over the blasting voices of media, the compassionate words that Jesus spoke to those rejected.

The greatest temptation in society today, is to believe the deception that is “us against them”. We claim to be all created in the image of God, yet we buy into the idea that our “image” is better than another person’s image. We need to remember the words from Amos, “Seek Justice (for everyone), Do Kindness (to everyone), and to Walk Humbly with God (all of us together).”

Step away from the noise and confusion of our modern media, and listen for the still, small voice of God.

Shalom, Darrell