Midweek Message

LABC Update – Saturday, April 6, 2024

Jim Hopkins

April 4, 2024

Family,

Tomorrow at LABC, in both worship and in an after worship Forum, we will recognize, and discuss the ongoing significance of the “Kwibuka,” the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda from April – June 1994.

Here is an abstract of the sermon I intend, God willing, to deliver

Psalm 133
133:1 Look, how very good and how pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

133:2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.

133:3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

 

Of this Psalm scholar Robert Alter writes, “This poem is a kind of idyll celebrating harmonious life together in a fruitful land. A sense of quiet rapture conveyed at the outset through three words of emphasis – “look” (hineh), and then twice “how” (mah).

 

When we perceive, observe or experience healthy community, we do well to receive it as a gift.  We do well to breathe in the sense of quiet rapture, for the simple fact that families and communities exist is no guarantee that within them there is unity, harmony or a sense of belonging.  In fact, families, communities and other supposed gatherings of kindred, are often places of unspeakable pain and permanent harm.

 

The genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda stands as an example of the horror that can be unleashed when kindred do not dwell together in unity. Thirty years ago, from April to June 1994, more than 800,000 Rwandans were brutally murdered by their fellow citizens in a state-led assault targeting the Tutsi ethnic group. Neighbors killed neighbors and some husbands even killed their wives. Hutu ethnic group extremists encouraged the killing through a sophisticated media effort which urged people to “weed out the cockroaches,” meaning to kill Tutsis.

 

Sociologists and anthropologists tell us that the Tutsis and Hutus are indeed kindred. It was the German and Belgian colonizers who were primarily responsible for convincing them that they were not. By favoring the minority Tutsis with positions of privilege and greater economic opportunity, they used the enmity this division caused to pit the groups against each other, to focus their resentment on each other rather than on the colonial powers who were misusing them both.

 

Using contrived sociology, anthropology and theology the propogandists, in the words of Aldous Huxley, “made one set of people forget that other sets of people are human.” Hence, the murderous rampage.

 

My purpose is not to label the Rwandan people as savage. Rather, it is to point to the genocide there as one example of what human beings have a long history of doing – narrowly defining who our kindred are and then acting hatefully to those we have defined as “not us.”

 

We see this in the way the native people of North, Central and South America were treated by the European colonizers.  We see it in the way the Christians, Jews and Muslims of the Middle East so readily demonize each other. As President Jimmy Carter wrote in 2010, “The blood of Abraham, God’s father of the chosen, still flows in the veins of Arab, Jew and Christian, and too much of it has been spilled in grasping the inheritance of the revered patriarch in the Middle East. The spilled blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God – an anguished cry for peace.”

 

We humans can, and must, do better. Far too much blood still flows. Civil, internal, wars continue to be exceedingly violent with non-combatants dying only to be deemed “collateral damage.”

More positively, most of us have experienced in some way, in some place and at some time the exquisite joy of kindred living together in unity. Let us work to expand our understanding of kindred. Let us be consistent in extending to each other the simple joy of belonging. It could be that the fate of our planet depends on this commitment.

I trust that you will worship with us,

Pastor Jim

 

This morning on LABC Zoom – Pastor Carolyn leads A Time For Prayer (an hour earlier than usual so participants can attend the memorial service for Matthew Norris at 11:00)

Zoom Link

Online: https://zoom.us/j/8599095914
Dial-in: 1 669 900 9128

Meeting ID: 859 909 5914
Password: 192833

 

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