We call the building behind us a meetinghouse, and that is with great intention. It is not a consecrated place. No pope or bishop or pastor declared that it is holy. it is a place for meetings, and it has been here in this town since 1724; this particular meetinghouse has stood in this place since 1830. It is called a meetinghouse because all people are invited to meet here. But here's the thing: when people gather in this meetinghouse it becomes a sacred place, because when people gather here holy ground is created, as holy ground has been created here this morning. And when people gather in this place we always offer this welcome: no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.
We mean it, because all of us are holy, magnificent creations of the Holy One.
And that is why we must speak clearly and resolutely when messages of hatred are spread in our community, because while all people are welcome here, hatred is not. Hatred is a cancer, and it is our responsibility to stand up to it and eradicate it. It is our obligation to speak clearly a different message, a message of love.
I do not hate the people who distributed these hateful flyers in our community; I love them, whether they like or not. But I will not be silent about the hate they spread, because it is wrong and destructive.
And their plan backfired. I imagine that the folks who distributed those flyers intended to spread fear among us, to make us cringe and hide. But look what they have done instead. They have inspired this group of wonderful people to come here this morning to stand together in love. If they hadn't put those hateful flyers on those windshields last weekend, we wouldn't be here this morning, showing our love for our community, for one another, and for every person God created.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said that only love can drive out hate. And that is what we are here to do today, to love. I wish I could be here with you, but other pastoral duties have called me away. But I want to say that I do love you, and I love that you are here, and I thank you for being here.
Thanks be to God.