Yesterday was a good beginning at Tikkun Olam – a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world" (or "healing the world"). You don’t have to visit the area outside Old South Church to realize that the world is in need of deep repair – deep healing. People the world over are holding us in prayer. People like Wafa, who works for the Middle East Council of Churches in Jordan, focusing on Syrian refugees. Our vulnerability is now exposed by this wanton violence, and we have a new solidarity with the people of New York City, Syria, Israel/Palestine, Oklahoma City, and tragically, so many other places.
Yesterday was a good beginning at Tikkun Olam . In addition to the exceptional leadership of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Governor Deval Patrick and President Barack Obama, our own Nancy Taylor shared her first hand stories from the finish line a few feet from the door of Old South. Lifting up those who made their own bodies sacraments of mercy by running towards the danger, and giving thanks for first responders who made of their own bodies sacraments of blessing, Nancy declared, “We are shaken but we are not forsaken… Another’s hate will not make of us haters… Another’s cruelty will only redouble our mercy.” (View Nancy Taylor speaking here.)
Yesterday was a good beginning at Tikkun Olam . Actually, for the many Chaplains who serve Boston’s hospitals, the repair of this horror began minutes after the explosions. Joining these unsung heroes are pastors who have visited the hospitals, and several UCC clergy (Dan Smith, First Church Cambridge, Laura Everett, Mass Council of Churches and Nick Carter, Andover Newton Theological School) who worked tirelessly in the background helping to plan yesterday’s interfaith service.
On Sunday, the world will join the people of the Commonwealth in taking another step in the journey of Tikkun Olam . Providing light for this journey through darkness is what our churches do. Generating the spark is not easy – but the cloud of faithful witnesses who have gone before us show us the way. By coincidental planning done a year ago, I will be with Nancy and the Old South congregation. The light we shine will merge with the light shining from every one of our churches, and the darkness will not overcome it.
Yesterday was a good beginning at Tikkun Olam . Sitting in the Cathedral, I felt the resilience of our Commonwealth and our beloved Boston flowing through my veins and awakening in all around me a new resolve – to use the time we’ve been blessed with to make the world a better, more loving, more just and more reconciled place. This morning, I continue to pray for those who died and those whose lives are forever scarred. I pray for their loved ones and their unknown future. I pray for all who have touched them with healing hands and love. And I pray for the two suspects – one now dead (as I write this) – and for the law enforcement officers, the FBI, the homeland security personnel and others who are risking their lives to apprehend the other.
And I pray that you can join me and gain strength and new resolve from Jesus’ most frequent admonition: “Fear not!”
Jim Antal is a denominational leader, activist and public theologian. He led the 360 churches of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ from 2006 to his retirement in 2018. An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, ...