JCRC is an active member of Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). On Sunday April 21st, GBIO was scheduled to have a public action to engage with candidates – in advance of the April 30 primary for the US Senate special election – regarding a range of our shared priorities including gun violence and immigration reform. In the aftermath of the marathon bombings, GBIO’s leadership decided to change the purpose of the gathering to one of prayer and reflection on the violence of the prior week and in our society. I was privileged to be asked to share this reflection at the gathering of over 500 Christian, Muslim and Jewish partners who were joined by Congressmen Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey:
Last Monday, like so many of us, I was afraid. For myself this fear was not unfamiliar, having lived in Jerusalem for several years, and in New York during the 1993 and 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. But it was new to me to experience this here, in a community I moved to less than two years ago.
On Wednesday I was angry. Angry at the US Senate for failing to act to protect our communities from gun violence. Angry at the feeling that we had been abandoned by those who are sent to represent our needs.
But on Thursday morning, sitting in church, I found comfort. Comfort in the prayers of my own faith, and also in prayers offered in the traditions of others. But more than in prayers I found comfort in being in community, being together with many of you, with people I am privileged to act with, to dialogue with, to learn with week in and week out.
And then came thursday night and the next harrowing day which began with a violent assassination near my own home in Cambridge. I took shelter alone in my home as responders enveloped our community hour after hour.
But I did not feel alone.
I was in community– by phone, by email, online – with so many of you. As we experienced this manhunt, I experienced you. My community. Christians, Jews and Muslims. I felt held, and cared for, and connected to all of us sharing this experience in our places.
From the day I arrived in Boston 18 months ago it has been my job to talk about quote-unquote “our” community. Last Thursday as the President’s words of Boston pride washed over me and as for the first time since Monday I paused for real reflection, our community was my own.
Our community is stronger for our shared experience this past week. Our community gives us hope for what is possible.
On the radio this morning someone said that “We will always be vulnerable to some level of attack. What we can control is how we respond.”
We are strengthened through our shared experience last week. What we control is how we use that strength for collective action that will test our resilience.
I chose to act in community, with hope. For in these moments with all of you my fear is dissipated and my anger feels powerful. This is my community and with you I am called to action.
To restore hope. To reject fear. To end violence.
And so, tonight, I am filled with gratitude for all of you. Thank you.
– Jeremy Burton
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