Once again the power of hate is in the national news as a white supremacist opened fire in a synagogue in Poway, CA killing a woman and wounding three others. Lori Kaye lost her life when she put herself between the gunman and the rabbi who was the intended target. Even as we denounce the racist bigotry that led to her death, may we also lift up the courage and love that allowed Lori Kaye to give her life to save others. This tragedy happened on the last day of Passover, the Jewish celebration that commemorates God’s deliverance of the Hebrew people from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Up to that point, the power of domination and violence represented by Pharaoh seemed invincible. Yet Moses dared to believe that God was more powerful than Pharaoh and that God called him to act on that belief by confronting Pharaoh and leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt.
The power of hate seems nearly invincible today. In our country and around the world, words and acts of racist and religious violence happen with alarming regularity. We are tempted to “normalize” this situation as “the way it is.” Yet the presence of God is still at work in our world calling us to believe and act on a power greater than hate. Most of us will never face the situation of literally giving our lives for another as Lori Kaye did. Yet each of us is called to commit our lives to the power of God’s non-violent, self-sacrificial, inclusive love. As stories of hate and violence fill the airwaves, I urge us to ask this question, “What is one step I can take today to show my commitment to the power of God’s love?” I believe that if we ask that question sincerely, God will show each of us the step we need to take individually and in community. Whether that step seems small or big, it will be more powerful than hate.