This past Sunday we awoke to a shock not experienced in the United States since 9/11; hate unleashed, mass murder, an act of terror. Like you, as I made my way to church, I had no clue what had happened early Sunday morning. Like you, my emotions are all over the board; demanding, desiring, hoping for answers. Why did this happen? How do we respond?
In the aftermath, I know this; God through Jesus Christ provides us a way forward! Jesus instructs us: “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:4); “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34); “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). In Jesus, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered not to stoop to the level of the perpetrator and give into hate; rather, we are empowered to seek higher ground, choosing the way of love: “By this they will know you are my disciples.”
Hate breeds hate, love in the midst of tragedy and despair breeds transformation. Bishop Palmer wrote to the churches of the conference:
“Every life lost to terrorism and gun violence is a summons to turn our backs on a paradigm that simply does not work…In these days to come, may we compassionately hold the families cut most deeply by this loss and fear. May we stand close enough so we feel their pain as if it were our own, because it is. And may the pain of staying the same finally give way to the pain of change. The change we need will be costly. We will have to give up something. Only in the letting go of what is do we have a chance to embrace what can be . . . .We must die to live. Die to violence, to live in peace. Die to hatred, to live in love.” (Go to the West Ohio Conference website for the complete article)
We are called to a life centered in the love of God through Jesus Christ. At times it is a life that is not easy, convenient, or preferred; but a life that is, at all times, transformative!
I look forward to seeing you in church.