This may seem an unusual message for Thanksgiving weekend, but I have heard from some of you that the devastating events last weekend in Edmonton and Las Vegas are really weighing on your hearts. Maybe you hope and pray that tragedies like the ones we witness far too frequently these days would just stop and go away...forever. You wish you could wake up in a world in which children could go to school, friends could go to movies, athletes could run marathons, music lovers could go to concerts and people could go to churches without the fear of violence.
Sadly, that doesn't appear to be ready to happen anytime soon. Hurricanes, fires and earthquakes-devastating as they are-are one thing. But the evil that we inflict on one another, that's a whole other sickness. In an era of randomized terror, it's extremely difficult to protect ourselves from the acts of violence that are infecting and affecting our ordinary, everyday life. Which is exactly what it's designed to do. That is why they call it terror.
So we pray, even when we are not sure what to pray or how to pray and even if we are not sure that it is enough.
Here are a few things that have been circulating through my heart and mind as tragedy after tragedy keeps happening and I look for a way to respond faithfully:
- This is the time to be the church. Because what our faith offers is a radically different alternative to hatred and violence. The Gospel is a needed ethic in our culture - it moves us to love when all that is left is hate.
- We need to practice our traditions of humility, confession and grace. The church has made mistakes over the generations and we need to take ownership for that.
- We live in an age where faith is increasingly seen as divisive and extreme. Our scripture teaches us that there's no 'us' and 'them.' There is only an 'us' and 'us.'
- The only ethic that will ever work is the ethic of love. Martin Luther King Jr said it very well: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
- Although good legislation is very important, in order to change the world we need to change the hearts of the people. The most radical thing you can do today is to extend love in the face of hate.
So go be the church...the church Jesus had in mind: Repent. Confess. Humble yourself. Forgive. Love. Hope. Trust. Turn to Christ for the strength you don't have. He has it. And we may already have the things that can change the world.
On this Thanksgiving weekend I want to tell you that I appreciate you so much. We have much to be grateful for. I hope you will be celebrating with family and friends and that you will be able to take a minute to offer thanks for all we have been given.