Since 2012, the Nebraska Synod has been a partner with the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska in developing a worshiping community as part of the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, a unique campus on which will stand three houses of worship: Jewish, Christian and Muslim.
This is an exciting opportunity for a host of reasons. Yet, even more than an opportunity, this is a call to witness. This week’s horrific shootings in Kansas City remind us of the hatred- and violence-drenched world in which we live; of the reality that prejudice has power, and its extreme expressions are lethal. Tragically, much of the extremism practiced here and throughout the world is rooted in religious intolerance.
Joining the Tri-Faith Initiative isn’t just a theoretical practice of interfaith dialog. It’s a concrete expression of the faith that includes the instruction to “love your neighbor.” This is a daring put-up-or-shut-up move, intended as a witness to a world increasingly suspicious of and opposed to religious belief, precisely because of the intolerance and violence we have witnessed yet again.
It is good and right that leaders of all faiths are today in prayer for all affected by Sunday’s carnage, and that expressions of condolence continue to flow. Yet it’s not it enough simply to react to these senseless and violent acts. Our faith compels us to be not merely reactive but boldly proactive, standing against intolerance before it spews its caustic venom. Being on the Tri-Faith campus lets us stand literally side-by-side with others too often targeted for such violence – not in denial of our own faith tradition, but in a confident expression of it, an expression that we can differ greatly, even fundamentally with our neighbors, and still recognize them as neighbors, as humans created in the image of God.
In this Holy Week of Jesus’ denial, death and resurrection, we are again inspired by his example not only to pray but to act. So we pray for the victims, the community and the perpetrator of the tragedy in Kansas City. We pray for the peace of the world. And we act, letting our partnership in this unique opportunity be our public witness to our faith in the one who died for the world God loves, and who was raised again to proclaim that love trumps hate, and life triumphs over death.