Am I My Brother's Keeper?


Our world was rocked this week by another act of terror.  Over forty people were killed and more were injured by suicide bombers in the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey.  

I've been in that airport.  I have walked the streets of Istanbul.  It's not an imaginary place to me.  I have been welcomed by Turkish people, shared a cup of tea with a vendor in the Spice Market, stood in the quiet, awesome beauty of the Blue Mosque watching people pray.  

On a whim, when I was visiting the Blue Mosque, I responded to a sign in English that read something like this, "If you want to know more about Islam, inquire in the office just ahead."  I knocked on the door and the imam, who was on duty opened the door.  I asked him if he spoke English, and pointed at the sign.  

He shook his head, and asked me if I spoke German. When I shook my own head, he took both of my hands in his and held them up in front of him with a sorrowful expression on his face.  "I am so sorry," he said over and over again.  

We stood there together with our hands clasped for a moment before I bid him goodbye--connected by our shared humanity.  A Presbyterian minister from Florida.  A Muslim imam from Istanbul. 

In the book of Genesis after Cain kills his brother Abel, God confronts Cain with a question, "Where is your brother?"  Cain replies, "How should I know?  Am I my brother's keeper?"  God told Cain, "Listen, your brothers' blood cries out to me from the ground."  In other words, "You were his keeper."  

In a world so divided by the kind of hate and violence that finds it's fuel in the twisted metal of religious fanaticism, it's difficult sometimes to answer that age-old question. But I do believe that for followers of Jesus, it is one of the important questions of our time.  

Especially after the tragedy in Orlando... and now in Istanbul.  

I was listening to a song by Matt Maher (one of my favorite Christian music artists) the other morning, and the song spoke to me on so many levels.  The song that I was listening to is entitled, "Love Will Hold Us Together," and the lyrics are as follows: 
It don't have a job, don't pay your billsWon't buy you a home in Beverly HillsWon't fix your life in five easy stepsAin't the law of the land or the government 
But it's all you need... 
And love will hold us togetherMake us a shelter to weather the stormAnd I'll be my brother's keeperSo the whole world will know that we're not alone...
It's waiting for you knocking at your doorIn the moment of truth when your heart hits the floor
And you're on your knees 
And love will hold us togetherMake us a shelter to weather the stormAnd I'll be my brother's keeperSo the whole world will know that we're not alone...
Though they were half a world away... and perhaps practiced a religion that I struggle to understand... those who died this week in that bombing were children of God, our sisters and brothers.  Their blood cries out to God from the polished floors where it was spilled.  

If we are to be true followers of Christ we have to believe that in the end it will be the love of Jesus that holds us, and brings us together---all of us.  And if we are going to show the Darkness that it doesn't get to win, we must become our brother's (and sister's) keeper not just in word, but in deed.  

May you find ways today and every day to be your brother's keeper.  May you reach out to the marginalized, and the ostracized.  May you find ways to show the love of Christ even to those who you struggle to understand.  May you find connections you never knew you had.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 



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