23 Jun The Savior Weeps. We Weep.
I was on vacation and “off the grid,” so to speak, when the tragic events of Orlando unfolded eleven days ago. Like many of you, the more I heard the more horrified I became, and because I was away I did not have my friends and faith community nearby with whom I could process and pray over such senseless, unspeakable loss. So, in this space please allow me to add my voice to the many others who have spoken out to condemn the violence that has once again assaulted our national conscience.
There is an account in Luke’s gospel of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Think about it: Jesus crying, sobbing … over what was happening in his city and to his people. Jesus wept and said, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42, ESV, emphasis mine).
Over the past week and a half thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people have wept over the victims, their families, and what is happening in our society. There is much to cry over, and Jesus is crying along with us.
As a country, we cannot agree on what it will take to achieve peace among us and to keep innocent people from dying. Social media is blowing up with people arguing about how to prevent the carnage that has become so commonplace throughout America. Some argue that if more people had been armed, the slaughter could have been halted early on. Others argue that no private citizen should be allowed to possess an automatic assault rifle. Within our country, our families, and our churches, there are differing views on gun control, help for the mentally ill and what, if any, role Islam as a religion played in these events. Though we have our differences, there is still much that unites us.
WE CAN AGREE, CAN WE NOT …
- that violence—verbal and physical—as a means of venting frustration is wrong.
- that incivility and lack of respect for people different from ourselves—whether because of political affiliation, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, religion, or handicap—often leads to abuse.
- that posting and reposting attacks on others, including political candidates, is hurtful.
- that hate is a negative and harmful emotion.
- that we can live as people of peace, renouncing verbal and physical violence.
- that proactively initiating an act of kindness to someone who’s radically different from us will bless both the giver and the receiver.
- that Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45a, NRSV).
CAN WE ALSO AGREE …
- to stop posting or uttering hateful, demeaning things, things that ridicule, that belittle—even if the object of ridicule is Trump or Hillary?
- to monitor our conversations so only gracious, kind words come out of our mouths?
- to let God be the judge of other people and stop presuming we know the mind and heart of God?
- to work together with people who may hold opinions and positions quite different from our own?
- that at times it might be necessary to compromise for the greater good?
- that our faith communities can seek creative ways to assist victims of hatred or abuse, or participate with and support those who help these victims?
It’s heart-wrenching to see people weeping over the loss of their loved ones …
But look into Jesus’ face for a moment. Imagine that face. See him with his head in his hands. See the tears dropping into the dust of the road.
The Savior weeps. We weep.
In some way—great or small—let us agree to change. Let us be the change we need in this country. Let us stop doing whatever might be hurtful and start doing whatever might be healing. Let us work for peace.
And let’s do it now.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him'” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
Yours for the Kingdom,