“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” - Proverbs 10:12
One year ago, our interfaith community stood together at my installation as the Senior Minister of the Community Church. We pledged to stand by, for, and with one another, whatever the future may hold. It felt like a marriage. When we make such vows, we cannot know what that future may look like, or what it may cost us to fulfill them. Nevertheless, we held hands as Buddhist, Baptist and Baha'i, Unitarian and Unity, Moslem and Methodist, followers of Jesus, Hindu, and Jew.
Now here we go, one year later, shaken by the conspiracy theorist who tossed zip-lock baggies filled with hateful, untruthful, and prejudicial misinformation about our Jewish neighbors, all over town. I suspect that regardless of your faith background or tradition, this kind of behavior does not foster deep and loving relationships with your neighbors. On the contrary, a bag of hate tossed on the lawn arouses suspicion, creates anxiety, and divides our community.
In our tradition as followers of the Way of Jesus, we believe that hate is antithetical to the love energy that brought the worlds and all creation into being and called it good. We name all hate as sin, those thoughts, words and actions that separate us from God, the source of life, and alienate us from one another. One cannot love God and hate neighbor, any neighbor. Period.
We don’t need to form a study group or conduct an opinion survey to agree that this kind of cowardly, misdirected behavior is unacceptable. It offends God as we understand God, it offends our neighbors whom we love, and, frankly, it offends me. I want to look whoever did such a thing in the eye and say: “Knock it off. Stop what you’re doing. That hurts people. Don’t do that again.”
There’s a Biblical passage in the Hebrew book of Ecclesiastes that reminds us that when we stand alone, an assailant can overtake us, but when we stand together, we come like a rope, a three-fold cord that cannot be broken. One alone becomes the victim of hate, but united we survive hate and will not be overcome by it. We become stronger as churches, synagogues, mosques and meditation centers when we stand against hate, together.
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Community Church of Vero Beach