In this season when families celebrate the end of another school year, the deaths of two young people caught up in systemic violence feel all the more shocking. While one was a tragedy of international tension, the other was a murder entangled with misogyny, religious hatred and possibly the rage of the immigrant who killed her. Both are heartbreaking.
Otto Warmbier and Nabra Hassanen have both been remembered as promising and popular, the kind of young people you want your own children to become, or at least befriend. One Jewish, one Muslim, both have been mourned by thousands. While Otto’s death warranted the president’s condolences, however, the Dupont Circle memorial for Nabra was set on fire.
I’m thankful that you are a congregation who recognizes the tragedy in both of these deaths, as well as those of any young person killed violently, but particularly those whom the rest of society tends to discount or forget because of their race, class, religion, gender identity or immigration status. I’m glad you know that our faith calls us to grieve any time a human being is killed senselessly, and that on the cross God felt personally the pain of a parent in a child’s violent, unjust death.
I hope you will join me in continuing to pray for all of these families and for those who care for children and young people everywhere in this change of seasons and to work for a world that better cares for all of God’s children.
Grace and peace,