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Monday, June 13, 2016

Who Are We

"Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us that we may be saved" (Psalm 80:3, NIV).

There is never anything sufficient to say in the midst of senseless tragedy.  And yet, like so many others, I am going to try.

The Orlando shooting took the lives of fifty people and has changed the lives of countless more, beginning with the injured, the families of the victims, and those who were present and traumatized by the shooting, itself, but it doesn't stop there.  It shouldn't stop there.  It cannot stop there.  Suffering should affect us all.  In our media saturated, sound bite culture, I have a great deal of concern that this tragedy will be forgotten by most, by next week.  Something else will catch the attention of the masses, and we will neglect to remember these names, these faces, these very real people.  I don't know how to fix that.  I wish I did.  

I am grateful that in the hours following this particular heartbreak, I have not observed a great deal of hate spewing from the mouths and fingertips of people I know.  Undoubtedly, the hate is there somewhere.  Clearly, hate was present in the one who chose to take the lives of innocent people with whom he had no connection.  But I'm thankful that it seems, at least for today, that most of the people who are speaking out are speaking in love.

The only things worth saying to people who are hurting, today, are, "I'm so sorry.  What can I do for you?  How can I serve you?" 

To the church, specifically, it is our responsibility to be the presence of Jesus to those who are suffering.  Mostly, that looks like sitting quietly and allowing hurting people to say and do whatever they need to, as they grieve.  It looks like tears and embraces and unfortunately it often looks like rows and rows of casseroles, because we don't tend to know how to show up without something in our hands.  But we have to show up.

Salvation isn't always what we think it is.  Every day we have the opportunity to bring the Kingdom of God to other people, right where we are.  Sometimes we do OK, and other times we inflict Hell, instead.  It recently occurred to me that we are capable of bringing either kingdom.  We should choose very carefully how we interact with others, and by carefully I guess I really mean reckless abandon in love.

When we pray things like, Psalm 80:3, I hope we understand that we are everyone.  God desires redemption for all (see II Peter 3:9).  God wants us all.  God loves us all.  I recognize that this sounds simple, cliché'.  But it's true.  I think we'd better act like we believe it.

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