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ZZZ-RETIRED "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny..."

Rev. Dr. Neal R. Jones
UU Fellowship of Columbia, South Carolina

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.”

Suffering anywhere rends the hearts of compassionate people everywhere.

Though the violence visited upon our brothers and sisters in Knoxville was senseless, we do not need to understand tragedy in order to respond to tragedy.

Let us light a candle of solidarity with our fellow Unitarian Universalists in Knoxville, who do not suffer alone but are embraced by a larger community of condolence and concern.

We grieve with the families and friends of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger, both of whom were killed, and with sympathy and support we stand by the seven others who were injured.

Let us light a candle of gratitude for the precious gift of life, whatever its shape or duration, and may the beauty and fragility of life remind us to live more deeply.

We marvel at the heroism of Greg McKendry, who offered up his body as a shield to protect others, and of the other men who subdued and restrained the shooter from inflicting further harm. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Let us light a candle of love that does not count the cost but values others more than self. “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.”

We regret that a whole congregation, especially the children, had to witness the viciousness and repulsiveness of violence, a trauma which they shall never forget.

Let us light a candle of faith that, in time, spirits may be healed, hope may be renewed, and tragedy may be absorbed into a larger vision of life.

We are outraged that Jim Adkisson would vent his despair in such a reckless, cruel, and thoughtless way, and we are disgusted with the purveyors of hate in our culture who provided him with a scapegoat for his failures and frustrations.

Let us light a candle of forgiveness that does not condone or excuse but seeks to understand that violence is but a symptom of vulnerability, fear, and hopelessness. May understanding melt our resentment into empathy and compassion.

We are proud of the heritage of Unitarian Universalists, who have proven themselves throughout history to be defenders of human rights and human dignity, tribunes for peace and justice, and advocates of reason and tolerance. Our faith has endured at great cost. It is costly still.

Let us light a candle of courage that may emulate the fortitude of our forebears, whose words and deeds call us to our best selves. Let us honor them by continuing to open our doors and our hearts to all people.

We will not allow fear to compromise our principles, to silence our voices, to suffocate our faith, to extinguish our hope, or to restrain our love.

We shall continue to be a witness to light and life, to welcome the stranger, to love our neighbor, to nurture the souls of our people, and to help heal our wounded world.