We begin our worship this morning, however, with the events at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh hanging over us, and the loss of eleven lives. The person in custody identifies as a Christian and used the Gospel of John, a Gospel we will be reading from this morning, as justification for his acts. Given this day and that fact, instead of our order of confession, I would like to read from the ELCA Document called Guidelines for Lutheran Jewish Relations.
”In the spirit of that truth-telling, we who bear [Luther’s] name and heritage must with pain acknowledge also Luther's anti-Judaic diatribes and the violent recommendations of his later writings against the Jews. As did many of Luther's own companions in the sixteenth century, we reject this violent invective, and yet more do we express our deep and abiding sorrow over its tragic effects on subsequent generations. In concert with the Lutheran World Federation, we particularly deplore the appropriation of Luther's words by modern anti-Semites for the teaching of hatred toward Judaism or toward the Jewish people in our day.
Grieving the complicity of our own tradition within this history of hatred, moreover, we express our urgent desire to live out our faith in Jesus Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people. We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and an affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us.”
Let us pray:
God, whom our Lord Jesus Christ worshipped as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph:
Forgive us when our words are used to kill your children in the name of Christ. Strengthen us to stand between your chosen people and hate. Comfort those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death and bring us all to your shalom. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.