We lit candles to commemorate the 17 victims of the violent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Ash Wednesday. We a statement from our Bishop, Ken Carter, and addressed our call to action, as Christians, to speak out against violence in our schools. Then, following the lead of our Bishop, we took the tools we offered in worship--envelopes and addresses--and write to our elected officials, urging them to get on board with curbing school gun violence. We were reminded that we did not all have to agree on what the solutions may be, but we all are called by God to look out for God's children.
As our Bishop said,
"I call upon the followers of Jesus to speak for those whose voices are silenced, and to speak for our children and grandchildren. What if, across Florida and even our connection, we were able to collect and send 5000 letters?"
- Visit the Conference's webpage for the 5000 Letters initiative.
- Common Cause offers a tool to find your local representatives.
- For those of you who have smart phones:
- Open a message, and type 50409 in the phone number line.
- Type "resist" in the message box and hit send.
You will get back instructions, asking your name and address,
and then your elected officials' names will all pop up.
- Follow further directions to type out the body of your letter.
Resistbot will put your letter in proper format for you and send it to your officials.
Jill Berquist, Pastor
The rest of that story book ends quite happily, with Max befriending the wild beasts and romping with them until he misses his mommy, and then coming out of his own silly imagination to have a nice home-cooked supper—it was still hot--and hug time with his parents.
Wednesday afternoon, in a tame, quiet, not-wild-at-all town in South Florida, did not end with supper and hugs for 14 high school students and 3 staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In their story, the wild beast they met won the day. Evil triumphed.
I had just taken attendance in my 7th period class a few hundred miles away, at Marianna High, where I teach English to seniors, when I glanced at my phone. An alert was flashing across it. I don’t usually read the news out loud to my students (we discourage cell phone peeking), but this one, yes.
Jesus grieves, not only the loss of innocent victims of the world’s violence, but at the lack of action on the part of God’s people to care for those who cannot take care of themselves.
He says, in the Gospel of Matthew, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
The Psalmist admonishes us to “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Do. Seek. Pursue. Gather. Those are action verbs.
These scriptures aren’t telling us sit around and wait for a miracle when we see evil. We’re not told to wait for rescue or Divine Intervention. God is calling us to action. Consider how active we are in the beautiful vision of the prophets Micah and Isaiah of the Peaceable Kingdom:
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; neither shall they learn war any more.
"More than 150,000 students attending
at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre
(Source: The Washington Post)