Dear friends in Jesus Christ:
Together we are watching with a continuing sense of horror about the devastation unleashed in Newtown, Connecticut. Murder and suicide were visited in multiple locations in this self-described idyllic community. I need not rehearse for you here the details which we have and will continue to hear and consume from multiple sources. With thanks in advance for you taking time to read this short piece, I want to quickly invite you to tend to a few things with full confidence that some of these are already underway.
- Pray. Please spend some concerted and focused time in prayer personally. Use your many worship services this weekend as an important venue for prayer for all of the victims, their families and the community of Newtown.
- Talk. Talk in your small groups, Sunday School classes etc. about gun violence and the role that Christians and the church should play in helping all persons be shaped from the inside out by the Prince of Peace and the way of life he commends to us.
- Engage. Connect with schools and other institutions in your community to assist in healing the traumatized that are in all of our communities but especially the victims of violence. All persons who live in real fear of violence (whether from mass shootings, war, domestic abuse etc.) can benefit from the ministry of healthy churches and healthy Christians. Indeed the tragedy of Newtown is an example of both domestic violence and mass public violence.
- Make the Connections. This is an awesome opportunity for extraordinary preaching and excellent theology. Even a cursory reading of the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke remind us that the birth of our savior came against the backdrop of oppression, threat and violence. Matthew especially reminds us that the baby Jesus lived under the threat of death from his earliest days. Luke is careful to remind us through Mary’s song and Zechariah’s prophecy that though the world is out of sorts with all manner of injustice and violence God in Christ is acting to put things right. And on that dear ones we have staked our hope of salvation and our future now and when time is no more. We have responded to a gospel that speaks and gives life in the face of death. May it be so in these Advent days.
+Gregory Vaughn Palmer, Resident Bishop
Ohio West Episcopal Area - The United Methodist Church
"Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now." Dietrich Bonhoeffer