Interfaith clergy as well as civic leaders in at least 50 cities nationwide declared Monday the National Day of Mourning and Lament for the over 100,000 people who have died in the United States from coronavirus. They also took the time to grieve the deaths of the recent victims of racial injustice.
“Today, prayers of mourning and lament are taking place around the country in over 50 cities, which have organized their own events and prayer services,” said Sojourners Executive Director Adam Taylor during an hour-long virtual interfaith prayer service.
“We used the word ‘lament’ very intentionally. It is a religious word that signifies we must go deeper than simply remembrance. We must also search for lessons and even hard truths in the midst of our incredible loss. We mourn both individually and collectively because our hearts are broken. Our nation’s soul is in anguish.”
Throughout the weekend, faith leaders of three Abrahamic religions took time from their services on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — as many houses of worship returned to in-person services for the first time since the pandemic — to mourn and lament the deaths of people who have died because of COVID-19.
On Monday, the interfaith service, organized by the progressive evangelical social justice organization Sojourners, was held featuring the organization’s co-founder, Jim Wallis, Mohamed Elsanousi of the Islamic Society of North America and Rabbi David Saperstein, who served for over 30 years with the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center, among others.
In the U.S., over 1.7 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 so far while over 104,000 people have died after contracting coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.
“We may not know the names of every COVID victim. But each of them have loved ones who are still grieving. We can’t read every one of their names today, but we know that God knows their names by heart,” Taylor explained. “They were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, neighbors, fellow members of our congregations and faith communities, and co-workers. They were all beloved. We honor and celebrate the lives they lived today.”
Many coronavirus victims died alone without visitors by their side and were not given the proper memorial services because restrictions on large gatherings and social distancing guidelines have limited the time and space for families to grieve.
“If ever there were a time that our nation needs to come together in unity for healing across ideological lines, across political lines, across religious lines, across racial lines, and across gender lines, it is at this moment,” said Saperstein, a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom under President Barack Obama.
As some states and localities are beginning to ease restrictions on worship services, the call for a day of national mourning was endorsed by dozens of faith groups and leaders.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith