Dear Hope Family,
The sickening news of another mass murder last Sunday - this time in a small Baptist church in Texas - takes our breath way, reminding us of the fragility of human life and the reality of evil in this fallen world. It's unsettling to know terror can strike anywhere: schools, concert venues, movie theaters, restaurants, stadiums, offices, homes, military bases, airports, train stations, college campuses, public sidewalks, parks, and houses of worship.
How do Christians respond?
weep with those who weep. We
pray (a powerful weapon) for those who mourn, and for our world to embrace God's call to respect the sanctity of life. We
act for the sake of justice and peace, adding our voices (and listening ears) to important conversations about the effectiveness of gun control laws and mental health care systems. In contrast, however, to the divisive voices (the Bible calls them "noisy gongs") that dominate cable news, talk radio, and social media, we speak truth in love without demonizing or demeaning those who hold opposing views. We won't become pawns for the left or right. Instead, we'll find a third way.
As a church, we'll continue to make Hope as safe as a public space can be. At every service, we're blessed by the presence of a uniformed police officer. Our church family also includes several dozen members of the law enforcement community - they tell me that while they worship, they keep a watchful eye on the flock at Hope, ready to move in case of an emergency. Additionally, the West Des Moines Police Department led an emergency training session for our entire church staff not so long ago.
All that said, and taking nothing away from any of the above faithful responses, there's a deeper issue that can't be overcome, even by the most perfect laws, mental health care systems and proactive prevention programs -
Sin is the root cause of every murder, and every act of terror, war, violence, abuse, assault, division, and threat. On top of that, we're powerless to overcome sin on our own.
Truth is, this world needs a Savior - and our Savior comes!
His name is Jesus (literally, "the One who saves"). He's the Champion who fights for us, and promises to return to defeat evil in this fallen world once and for all, ushering in a new Kingdom where there will be no more sorrow, or crying, or pain ... or death! (
So, we don't run away and hide in fear. Instead, secure in the assurance of the eternal promises of our Savior, we press on - and live right now - with confidence and hope ... and we seek to share that hope with the world around us!
Keep the faith, Hope! See you at worship!
This weekend at Hope
, Pastor Ben (Sunday night) and I (Saturday night & Sunday morning) will preach on
The Forgiveness Factor
, the Urbandale High School choir will sing, and - best of all - the Holy Spirit promises to meet us here ... and it's been mighty windy around Hope lately! Come & see!