Everything is OK, or Not.

October 28, 2018. Sunday afternoon in the ‘Burgh. Gray skies with the occasional peak of blue. 48 degrees and a bit of wind. Battling my usual fall change of season sinus infection. “Stillers” are up at the half against the Browns 14-6.

Just a normal fall day in our corner of the country in Southwestern Pennsylvania? It is NOT a normal fall day. It is a horrific day. The gray skies above seem like a pall that has been draped over our city symbolizing our sobriety and our wound because our city, the city of neighborhoods, experienced a mass shooting yesterday inside a synagogue. As worshippers were gathering to celebrate the Shabbat 11 precious souls were taken from their families, taken from their community, taken from our city. A man spewing anti-Semitic vitriol and armed with 4 weapons entered this holy place and began shooting, killing these 11 and injuring 6 others including 3 law enforcement officials.

Mayor Peduto called this “the darkest day in Pittsburgh’s history.” He is right. Tree of Life synagogue, located in Squirrel Hill, is in the heart of the tightly-knit Jewish community here in our city. A community that cares for its own and serves others freely. Generations have lived here and are pillars of good for our region. Today they are shattered and grieving. And we are too, with them.

We can ask why this kind of gratuitous violence happens. We can ask what brings a man to such a state of mind, that his only solution is to take the lives of others in such a vicious manner. But I am not sure we will ever get good answers, other than to know that it is overwhelming fear and enormous pain—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual—that brings out the very worst evil in a human being.

There will be much speculation and politicization of how this happened. In this polarized and hostile election cycle, there will be blame and shame cast widely from all sides, and this will be used for political expediency. This is not at all helpful, but it will happen just the same. I wish it wouldn’t but I know it will.

So, what are we to do? We grieve, we lament, we mourn and we come together. Even as the community reeled, young people organized a vigil. Held outside the Jewish Community center at the intersection of Forbes and Murray Avenue hundreds, maybe thousands, gathered last evening, Saturday. And tonight another, larger interfaith vigil is planned at Soldiers and Sailors in Oakland.

In the shadows behind the interfaith vigil, loomed Sixth Presbyterian Church, where Fred Rogers worshipped for many years. He gave us some of the best words to remember in times like this,

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

At the essence of this message is love. The apostle John taught us that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) Perfect here does not mean faultless, for we are all with fault. It means wholeness. To love whole heartedly, without fear. We saw evidence of that love yesterday, and more love will come. To the families of the slain, to the mourning community.

As we enter our week, let us show up with love. Love for the loveable, but also for those with whom we differ, those who view the world from another perspective or those who stand on the opposite side of something for which we feel strongly. In doing so, we will drive out fear.

And, as we drive out fear with acts love, let us join with our Jewish brothers and sisters, in their mourning custom of “sitting Shiva”, the week-long mourning for the dead. Let us lament this horrific event. Let us respect this age-old tradition that allows the grieving to adjust to the loss, however devastating. Let us respect the customs and observations that help to make meaning out of death.

Though we have hope that the world will be made right one day when Jesus brings his kingdom into its fulness, Every thing is NOT OK in Pittsburgh today. Today, let’s choose to be with one another, bear one another’s burdens, grieve with one another, care for one another.

Pittsburgh will never be known for God until we are first known for our love for Him and for our neighbors.

 

Grieving and praying,
Lisa, Jim, Rick, Herb, Katie, Erin and Jay

The PLF team

 

The Significance of Play and Exploration: A Panel Conversation

The Play and Exploration Panel spoke at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

What does the word “play” mean to you? Does play suggest only frivolity and nonsense, or could it have some greater purpose in our lives? Led by minister Dave Bindewald, the participants of the first ever Play and Exploration Cohort share how stepping into wonder and curiosity has transformed their perspectives on vocation, creativity, and flourishing.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

Cultural Engagement and the Next Generation: Dr. Greg Thornbury

Dr. Greg Thornbury spoke at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

We need a new generation equipped to relentlessly pursue cultural engagement and stand toe-to-toe with the world, says Dr. Greg Thornbury, sixth President of the King’s College. Has the church been training up and shepherding the coming generation with this urgency, and do our young people have the tools to set forth the Word of Life in our cities? Explore these questions in Dr. Thornbury’s captivating talk.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

“Thy Will Be Done” in Community Transformation: Dr. John Wallace

Dr. John Wallace spoke at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

What does it look like to redeem our neighborhoods for the kingdom of God? Dr. John Wallace works as both a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a pastor in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. Dr. Wallace shares how his church practically lives out “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” for his hometown community, in the spheres of education, enterprise, art, and commerce.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

The Shared Story of Civil Rights: Dr. Todd Allen

Dr. Todd Allen spoke at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE.

As a college student, Dr. Todd Allen was shocked by the unfamiliarity of his peers with the history of the Civil Rights Movement, which had been so meaningful to his education. Now, college professor Dr. Allen has devoted his life’s work to communicating those stories and promoting the understanding that these stories belong to us all.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

Making Art for Others: Justin McRoberts

Justin McRoberts performed at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

Through his music and words, pastor and singer-songwriter Justin McRoberts uses the seeds of his creative passion to encourage and to challenge the community in which he has been planted. In this musical session, he reflects on themes of community, faithfulness, and vocation.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

Equipping Women for Whole-Life Mission: Katelyn Beaty

Katelyn Beaty spoke at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

What would it look like if the women in our midst understood themselves as full image-bearers of God and sought to live on mission for the kingdom? Katelyn Beaty, author and editor at large of Christianity Today, delineates both the barriers which women face in this pursuit and the powerful potential for women to rule and reign over culture.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

When Medicine Pursues Human Flourishing: Rev. Dr. Daniel Hall

Dr. Dan Hall at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

Meet the Rev. Dr. Daniel Hall, a general surgeon with the University of Pittsburgh and an ordained priest. From a young age, Dr. Hall found himself called into both the church and the hospital, studying the rich intersection of medicine and theology. Walk along with Dr. Hall as he tells his story and explores how he believes medicine can contribute the “thickness” of flourishing.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

Finding Your Place as an Estuarian: Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson spoke at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

How do you experience the world around you? How does that impact the life that you live? Doug Wilson, chairman of Monon Capital LLC, introduces a new method of “orthogonal” thinking about your place in the world. Wilson employs new language of “kayaking” and “estuarying” as a way of living that helps others experience the world as it ought to be every day.

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCOand is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush

The Role of Leadership in Thriving Cities: Dr. Greg Thompson

Dr. Greg Thompson spoke at Jubilee Professional 2017. See what thoughtful and challenging speakers will be at Jubilee Professional 2018 HERE

Today more than ever, our communities need bold leaders to move them from brokenness into regeneration and thriving. Dr. Greg Thompson, Executive Director of New City Commons, outlines the qualities of leadership necessary for this movement and invokes the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he calls us to “step into the shards of our communities and bear witness to the reality of love.”

Jubilee Professional is an annual, half-day conference to learn how to apply biblical truth to your everyday, professional life. It is brought to you by the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and CCO and is part of the Jubilee Conference.

Photo and video credit: Andrew Rush