Today we grieve the deaths of eleven people who were shot during their sabbath prayers on Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We find ourselves dismayed, angry, and sorrowful. We are tired of such violence. We find that fresh words are difficult to summon as we respond to a shooting that is both similar to many before and also utterly unique in its particular losses and laments.
Attacks upon the Jewish people sit especially heavily upon the hearts of all Christians who recognize that our own faith rests on the faithfulness of the God of Israel.
As a seminary, we stand in solidarity with all who suffer, particularly those who suffer because of how they pray and what they believe. Several of our students attended a vigil last night at the Jewish Community Center in Austin to show our support through our presence.
In chapel today we prayed for those who died at Tree of Life and for those who mourn their loss. We pray also for those whose lives now feel less secure and whose daily habits of living are shrouded with fear. We pray, as many have before us, with words familiar to Jews and Christians:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.…
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-3, 11)
May God uphold us and strengthen us that we may grieve without losing hope.
Dr. Scott Bader-Saye
Acting Dean and President
Professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology