As I sit down and try to write this, my heart should be full of the joy and optimism of the Advent Season, unfortunately my heart is heavy. This has been a tough weekend (I write this on Tuesday, Dec 18). Yesterday we celebrated Mike Lawbaugh’s life and we all know about the events that took place in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.
I need to make some confessions. First, I am tired! I am tired of all the violence. I am tired of the silly rhetoric that “guns don’t kill people.” I am tired of people who refuse to deal with the realities of our world. Second, I know I am emotionally worn out. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the death of Ed Hollowell (Nancy’s Dad) and Christmas Eve is the birthday of her brother Mike, who died in April. Third, I am struggling in figuring out what I am supposed to do (let alone how I am supposed to lead Ridge Church) in response to yet again another tragedy in our country.
So where to begin? As you read this, it is the dawn of a new year. I think there is a basic question that we need to ask ourselves: Will 2013 be different, or just more of the same? We face some huge issues as the New Year looms. We are drawing ever closer to the “fiscal cliff”, we have seen a year in which the weather was warmer and more chaotic than ever, and we have seen the continuation of violence. Violence in the inner city, as well as violence in suburbia continues to grow. And all of these issues have, in my opinion, a common thread. That common thread seems to be one of JUSTICE
On my FaceBook page on Saturday I made two comments about the events in Connecticut. First I wrote: “ENOUGH! It is time for us to own up to our violent nature and do all we can to curb it, even if it means giving up ‘rights’!” And then later wrote: “Just because ‘I have the right’, doesn't make it ‘RIGHT’”. I was shocked by some of the comments that were made in response. One particularly sticks out from a fellow United Methodist Pastor: “How sad it is that you would use this tragic loss of innocent lives to spew your left-wing agenda. Have you no shame?” Another pastor suggested that what we need to do right now is pray and mourn and nothing more. I cannot disagree more! And if my agenda is “left wing”, then so be it (my suggestion back to him was that he needed to read the Bible . . .)
My prayer is that in 2013 that our indignation will rise to such a level that we will actually DO SOMETHING about it. Yes, we need to pray. But what we need to be praying for is direction from God, from the Prince of Peace, as to what God’s agenda is.
The 64 million dollar question, the elephant in the room is: How do we as Christians respond to the injustices that are all around us? How would Jesus respond? How should we at Ridge United Methodist Church respond?
Tough questions, but ones that I hope you are willing to wrestle with.
A number of years ago, Brian McLaren wrote a book called: Everything Must Change. I want to invite you to read it with me and engage in a dialog about his wrestling with these very issues. Maybe as a result we can begin to understand God’s desire for us.
The format will be an open discussion beginning on Monday, January 14th over the lunch hour. Bring a lunch with you and we will share our struggles with these difficult issues. If you wish to participate (even just via email) let me know.
ENOUGH! It is time for us to do something to respond! Make it your New Year’s Resolution.