For twenty four years, West Heights United Methodist church youth have gone on caravan. The youth prepare the worship service, write the scripts, learn the music and have a one hour worship service that can be adapted to a thirty minute or forty-five minute service depending on their opportunity to share it.
Tonight was "dress rehearsal" before we leave tomorrow morning bright and early and return on Saturday, June 13. This is my third caravan and I am privileged to be asked to go along. The trip is long, exhausting, exhilarating and exciting.
It is always difficult to leave, to put things in order, to pack and to try and get my head around the trip. I love going and it is fun to have this time with our youth. This year it may be a bit more difficult.
Wichita is still reeling and in turmoil over the murder of Dr. George Tiller in his church. The community has rallied together. I did not know Dr. Tiller, so I had no intention of going to his service. Attendance at his memorial service is for his family and friend and co-workers and neighbors and church community.
However, because of what occurred there is an Interfaith Service on Friday. My colleagues are setting it up. It is being c0-sponsored by Interfaith Ministries and my good friend, Rabbi Moti Rieber and the Mid Kansas Jewish Federation, among others.
It has come to the attention of many that the church and pastor, whose names I will not post, from Topeka will be protesting on Saturday at College Hill United Methodist Church, Reformation Lutheran Church, Hebrew Congregation and Congregation Emanu-El. This nameless group of hate-mongers will bring their vile signs to my brothers and sisters at their house of worship. This group of persons will attempt to disrupt Shabbat services, and a memorial service. While I would not attend the memorial service, I would attend Shabbat services at Congregation Emanu-El to show my love, my support and my care for that faith community.
Since I can not be there, I will be lifting these persons on the wings prayer. That the God of Grace and Love and Peace might surround these faith communities with comfort and strength. I will continue to lift up Dr. Tiller's family and friends as they walk this "valley of the shadow of death."
This disturbing event will not be forgotten. There will be much healing and much work for people to do. We must not let hatred and violence rule. We are called to be a people working toward reconciliation and safe haven for those who need it.
As I leave, I know that there are many already doing this work. Certainly there will be much to do on my return. I go, knowing my place is with our forty youth and ten adults. I am grateful to be part of West Heights, but also to be part of greater community of faith, of Christian and Jews and Muslims and other spiritual traditions who are working toward what is good and true.
I continue to be,
Graced to Serve.