'Love Your Neighbor as Yourself'

(Matt. 22:39)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As we gather for our Sabbath, let us remember our neighbors of the Muslim faith community in the wake of the savage attacks and murder of dozens of children, women, and men who were worshipping in the "quiet and calm" of Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. The horror, hate, and violence of these terrorist acts have once again deeply impacted our Muslim neighbors and caused us all to reflect on why such evil continues.

I invite all United Methodists to:

1. Personally reach out to our Muslim neighbors, co-workers, and classmates, including those we may never have spoken to before. This is an important time to let them know of our love and support. My wife and I have been greatly blessed by conversations with our mail carrier who is Muslim.

2. Find ways for your congregation to get to know the Muslim congregations and Imams in your area. Plan a fellowship time with persons of other faiths, invite them to your congregation, and go, as invited, to theirs. The congregation we attend has found great joy in this.

3. In our own conversations, counter words of hate, prejudice, and intolerance directed at "the other," with words and actions of loving "the other" as we "love ourselves." Our voices of welcome and caring are needed in our national conversation about Muslims and immigrants, who were the target of the New Zealand shooter.

Take a moment in silent prayer for our world, our nation, our church. Hear Jesus whisper again, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Let us be the "Christchurch" in Virginia that our Lord and Savior calls us to be!

Grace and Peace,
Peter D. Weaver


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