Again and again I stand before gatherings of the faithful and ask:
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”
And the people respond:
“I will, with God’s help.”
Respect for the dignity of EVERY human being – it is foundational to our Baptismal Covenant. It is central to our sacred story. It is at the core of all major faith traditions. It is a value that parents overwhelmingly want their children to possess.
At the heart of this belief is that EVERY human being is uniquely created in the image of God. Twins, siblings, life long friends or spouses – no two of us are completely alike.
A person’s ethnic heritage, gender, age, religious affiliation, sexual orientation is the very essence of what they uniquely manifest – how an individual is created in the image of God. The horrific tragedy in Orlando on Sunday reminds us yet again how much work is still to be done to bring forth respect for every one of God’s unique children.
We do not need a mass murder to make it clear to us how disrespectful we are to each other. Go for a drive, stand in line at the airport, attend a sporting or community event or go shopping. Pay attention to the human interaction, or lack thereof. Sorrowfully, we see in these places our lack of respect for other human beings.
The second part of this particular Baptismal Covenant promise is to “strive for justice and peace among all people.” God is calling us to accountability, to action, to work with God in the reconciliation of the world. We do not get to be overwhelmed or apathetic. We do not get to assume that someone else will do this work. I believe this is in part why each of us is uniquely created in the image of God. We each possess gifts that are needed to bring forth with God the healing and reconciliation of all.
Jesus said, “For I was hungry and YOU gave me food, I was thirsty and YOU gave me drink, I was a stranger and YOU welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35). My sense is that Jesus would say to each of us today that human beings, uniquely created children of God, are being killed and YOU must use YOUR gifts to bring an end to it.
And as we work for justice and peace I specifically ask your prayers for our LGBT brothers and sisters as well as our Muslim brothers and sisters whose lives this day feel so vulnerable.