Last week I really should have written something about the shooting that took place at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Spring in Texas. I started to write and then stopped. I have to admit that I am feeling a sense of exhaustion and numbness. There have been so many shootings and other acts of violence in the past several weeks. Add to that the deluge of news about women being sexually harassed and assaulted (#metoo) and it is no wonder some of us are starting to feel numb. Numbness is a rational response to continued pain and anxiety. And yet, as people of faith, we must not give up.
Our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, has written a very good reflection on the First Baptist Church shooting. In his article he references other resources we can use as we seek a faithful response. I was particularly moved by his encouragement that we continue to pray and to act:
While we grieve with those who have lost loved ones today – friends, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters – and while I ask you to join me in praying for the victims and their families, I would also urge you to continue to speak out against our culture of violence… We must urge our lawmakers to take meaningful action to keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them for ill.
– Bishop Greg Rickel
You, like me, may feel helpless or overwhelmed by the frequency of violent events, but we do have hope. Jesus came to a world even more explicitly and overtly violent and ugly as what we are seeing today. There are desciptions from Jesus’ time of governments perpetuating mass murders. The roads leading into Jerusalem were lined with dead and dying people hanging from crosses. This was how Pilate dealt with rebels. Pilate was so brutal that he received letters from Rome (which still exist) asking him to stop killing so many people.
Much has changed since then, and much is sadly the same. The value of coming together, worshiping together, and supporting one another in faith, is that we have the resources and resillience to resist numbness and despair. Jesus shows us a way of living in loving relationship even when we are under the shadow of evil and violence. We support one another in living for our vision of a world where on earth as in heaven, all are welcome, all are fed, and all are loved.
Yours in Christ,