Like you, I woke up to the horrific news of yet another senseless tragedy inflicted upon humanity. The mass shooting that occurred on Sunday evening in Las Vegas is among the worst ever in modern American history, and has resulted in, at last count, 58 deaths and over 527 wounded. It is heartbreaking to see the images and hear gun shots ringing out in the unsuspecting crowd gathered for an outdoor concert.
All of this happened on Sunday, just hours after we gathered to celebrate our unity as the body of Christ on World Communion Sunday. For at least one hour that Sunday morning, we were immersed in worship remembering the words and acts of Jesus which demonstrated God's love for the world. With the broken bread and poured out wine, we were reminded that God meets us in ordinary things, including tragic events in our lives. God is with us.
In an interview on cable news about the tragedy in Las Vegas, one of the commentators asserted that mass shootings are "the new normal." I was appalled by his seemingly cynical comment that left no room for God's ongoing transformative and redemptive work among us. Upon reflection, I believe his comment offers a cautious insight for faith communities.
As people of faith, the worst thing we can do is to "normalize" horrific events. If we do, we will become desensitized to the pain and suffering of humanity, and ignore the call to compassion and care: to bring the healing love of Christ to help others. Friends, do not be deceived into normalizing that which we are called to change.
May the wisdom found in Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) speak to our hearts and minds:
"Guard your heart above all else,for it determines the course of your life." Do not allow your hearts and actions to be swayed in ways that normalize the gun violence, hate and fear that has become commonplace in our world. Instead, where there is violence, bring peace. Where there is hate, bring love. And where there is fear, offer faith and understanding.
When all we see are images of despair in the news media, and real life has become scarier than movies,
it can be easy for us to give up hope. But "...let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9).
Do not get tired of doing good! Keep giving your financial gifts to OGHS, NIN, OCWM and volunteer your time to help in hurricane and earthquake damaged areas like Texas, Mexico, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Donate blood to help the wounded in Las Vegas and elsewhere. Keep feeding hungry children and families in your community. Learn more about how you can prevent gun violence with
Faith vs. Fear Bible study.
Keep praying and do what you can to bring God's healing, hope and peace to the chaos in our communities ... and the world that God still loves!
United in Christ's Love,
Rev. Dr. Monica Dawkins-Smith
Conference Minister and President
Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ