May 26, 2022
Where are you today?
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and
Have sorrow in my heart all day long?
Psalm 13:1-2 (NRSV)
Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation, so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 51:1, 14 (CEB)
Why do you boast, O mighty one, of mischief done against the godly?
You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth.
You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.
But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
He will uproot you from the land of the living.
Psalm 52:1-5 (NRSV)
On May 14th, an 18-year-old drove hours from his home and shot and killed 10 African American shoppers in Buffalo, New York, livestreaming the murders as he went about his evil errand.
On May 22nd, a 16-year-old was found shot dead in Newberry, SC, and by that evening another 16-year-old, a 15-year-old, an 18-year-old, and a 19-year-old would also be dead because of gun violence.
On May 24th, a young gunman shot and killed his grandmother and then drove to the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas where he killed 21 people (19 of them children).
Our right and first responses are grief, disbelief, sorrow and anger. I want to affirm that these responses are a good and right place to begin. Scripture gives us words to take all those feelings to God.
This week your church staff has had multiple conversations about how to respond to the escalating violence and hate that is a plague even more deadly than Covid-19. Ed Black suggested that we record a podcast, under the banner of our Transforming Faith podcast name, and talk about how transformed Christians are to live in such a world. Ed, Jodi Beckham, Bill Wannamaker and I sat down and recorded a podcast that is now available for you to listen and that, we hope, will prompt your own reflection and action.
The place to begin is to notice and to name what is going on with you and with those you love. Be present with your own feelings and then, I beg you, take all of that to God in prayer. Until our own grief, anger and worry is grounded in God, it can never be used for good purpose in our lives and the world. Then, listen to the podcast to see if any of our suggestions for what to do next might be helpful to you.
Our denomination has provided some good resources, and I thought that this article about age-appropriate suggestions to help parents talk with their children about school shootings was particularly practical. Read that article HERE (How To Talk to Kids about School Shootings).
The word religion has its etymological roots in the Latin word, religare, meaning “to bind together”. In other words, our faith is that which ties us to God, to ourselves and to each other. And every time FLPC gathers, we are to accomplish that re-connection. That is what Sunday worship is all about.
Whatever your current state of mind, remember that you are not alone. Come and be part of the body of Christ at Forest Lake so that we can grieve, reflect, and then act both to be good news in the world and to fight against evil. Your staff hopes that our podcast will begin the conversation about what we need to do next, as individual followers of Jesus and as the very body of Christ together.
Jesus is Lord!
He has been Lord from the beginning.
He will be Lord at the end.
Even now he is Lord.
[A Declaration of Faith – lines 87-90]