Monday, June 13, 2016

Responding to Tragedy

I must apologize to my congregation.

I failed to acknowledge or respond to the deadliest mass shooting in US history which happened in the early hours Sunday morning.  I was preparing for worship and simply failed to read any news before our services.

At a minimum, we should have prayed for the families of those who had been killed.

As I've explored the reports, I have seen responses diverge into two basic camps.

Left-leaning people are calling for more gun control in the United States.

Right-leaning people are calling for a more substantial response to radical Islamic terrorists.

We have people in our congregation which fall into one camp or the other.  Sometimes, people of one political persuasion automatically oppose what is put forward by the other side.  There seems to be a mentality that if "they" are for it, then I'm against it.

This shutting down of any openness to contrary opinion is a part of our divide as a nation.

As I've spoken with reasonable people in our church who do put forward these two ideas, pastorally, it makes me pose the question, "could both be correct?"

There are reasonable gun safety measures that most Americans would probably favor if the issue weren't so polarizing.

Radical terrorists - Islamic or otherwise - are difficult to negotiate with.  If someone is convinced that God is on their side and they refuse to acknowledge your humanity, this is a dangerous mix.  To ignore it is to leave our neighbor at risk.

We grieve with all those who are hurting.
Unfortunately, as we get caught up in the various responses, we neglect the dead and wounded in Orlando.  There are families in mourning right now who may not care about the political or philosophical responses to this latest tragedy.  They may just be in shock.

How do we rally around them?  How do we support them?

How does the church declare that the categorical hate of any group of people is anti-Christian?

As we look at our Christian story, when great violence was done to Jesus, God does not respond by outdoing the violence.  God responds with resurrection.

It transformed the world then and we pray that as followers of the resurrection, it will continue to transform the world today.

I invite you to take a moment and pray for our hurting world.

In Christ,


Picture by Cathy Baird via, used under Creative Commons license.  

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