From the Pastor’s Pen
I write these words after once again our nation is reeling from mass shooting – this time two within 24 hours – 22 killed in El Paso, Texas and 9 killed in Dayton, Ohio. These most recent incidents bring the total this year up to at least 17, an average of one mass shooting every 12.7 days. My heart is heavy; most likely your heart is heavy, too.
These senseless events of violence crush our soulswith anguish and cause us to question, “Why?” Haslife become that scary and cheap that the only way to deal with it is acting out with an assault weapon? How do we respond to these tragedies? What can we say to help our children and grandchildren feel safe when we ourselves are growing in concern for our security? And, how can we best answer thequestion, “Where’s God?”
The 19th century Russian poet, Apollon Maykov, wrote in an untitled poem dated 1878: The darker the night, the brighter the stars; the deeper the grief, the closer is God. Indeed, how can God be close in events that cause deep heartbreak?
A helpful, uncomplicated answer is found in thewords of the late children’s TV show host, Fred Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look forthe helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Yes, look for the helpers, and you will find thousands of them involved in various ways after tragedy takes place. Many are trained as first responders. Others simply hold hands, offer a tissue, provide water, or gather with kindred spirits to create change in public attitudes and policies. Thereare many good and caring people in the world – they bring God’s presence of comfort to times of shock and deep grief.
In the opening words of the Gospel of John it says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (1:5). Jesus said, I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness (John 12:46). Jesus also said, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16 ).
My friends, allow your light for Jesus Christ shine brighter than ever! Come together to nourish your souls with worship and study because you are needed to make a difference with your acts of kindness. You extend the presence of Jesus Christ in every deed of compassion. God is present; be the helper in whatever way your heart leads you. Do not be overcome by evil; overcome evil with good. (Romans)
So we pray. . . that society addresses those fears and attitudes that cheapen the precious gift of life. And we act. . . to express the presence of God inhelpful, healing ways.
Together on the journey…
Pastor Lee Ellenberger