Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In the last few days we have seen the evil within our society erupt once more – the shootingof two people of African-American descent after a failed attempt to enter a predominantly
African American Church; the mailing of pipe bombs to the Clintons, Obamas, CNN, and others; and the violent slaughter of worshipers at a Synagogue in an anti-semitic rampage. [click here for the CNN article]
First, please add the victims, their families and friends to your prayers. Prayer is mystical. It can, in ways we often cannot see or do not expect, change things. What’s more, prayer support can be felt. I know from experiencing your recent prayers for me and my family.
Second, this is not a new problem. We need to renew our work against the hate, bigotry, and evil that infects us. As Christians, we know this is not something we can fully conquer or control by our own efforts, but only by God’s work in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. In our chosen, prayerful responses we need measured, consistent strength. Fear is not the basis upon which we should act. Knee-jerk reactions will not make deep or lasting change. Worse, they can cause greater damage. Neither should we let ourselves be lulled back into our day-to-day patterns and pass over our incredible need to make change. We are called to something much more difficult: sustained, measured, collaborative reform.
Third, I commend to you the words and calls to action of our bishops. There is much wisdom in their words and ministry. These tragedies bring up the issues of gun ownership, gun responsibility, armed security in places of worship, racism, the great political divides in our country, civil conversation and civic duty, the death penalty, and out justice system. We need to be in discernment about these things, not asking what we want ourselves, but what God would have us do.
If you haven’t started, now is a good time to begin familiarizing yourself with what your bishops have to teach.
Episcopal Bishop, Greg Rickels’s Statements:
Lutheran (ELCA) Bishop, Rick Jaech’s Statement: