In our remembrance we know silence is not enough to change the world.
I have come that you may have life and life to the full.
In our remembrance we know silence is not enough to bring peace to the world.
Behold I make all things new.
In our remembrance we know silence is not enough to change the minds of leaders.
Your light must shine before people.
In our remembrance we know silence is not enough to change the way we do things.
This is what I command you: love one another.
In our remembrance we know silence is not enough to convey the truth of war.
Every tree is known by the fruit is bears. The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
In our remembrance we know silence is not enough but your words are.
Come and follow me.
~ written by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on the New Kilpatrick Parish Church website.https://www.nkchurch.org.uk/original-liturgy
On my way home from worship this past Sunday, I heard the horrific report out of Sutherland, Texas where twenty-six people were killed and others wounded at their worship service. As news continued to come in about the victims and hearing their stories, along with the killing of the Rockford police officer that morning, I was overwhelmed. I remember telling one of my daughters, "I am empty." There were no words, no prayers, nothing I could think of or say that could take away my sorrow and brokenness at that moment.
In the midst of my emptiness was silence. With that discovery, I decided I could no longer be silent. It is not enough to help heal the brokenness I see in the above instances of tragic loss of life. I cannot keep silent because of my own brokenness when I forget that "all are created in God's image." I cannot keep silent when elected officials continue to say, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, but this is not the time to talk about gun legislation." I cannot keep silent when elected officials tell churches and pastors they need to take better precautions to keep someone from doing a similar heinous act that took place in Texas or in Charleston, South Carolina.
Folks, I am not one to say that no one should own a firearm. I choose not to own one. That is my choice. Having said that, it is also my choice to stand with the victims of gun violence; to stand in opposition to those who have the ability to make decisions that will address these mass shootings; to ask why funds are continually reduced by elected officials for mental health illnesses, but at the same time, those with mental illnesses are allowed greater access to firearms.
I must also admit that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, and as a pastor, I need to fill my emptiness with compassion—not only for those who are victims of gun violence, but also those who have perpetrated the violence and their families who are left in the emptiness as well. If I truly believe that all are created in the image of God, then I need to respond in the ways of God when I fill my emptiness with anger, frustration, and lack of understanding. Sometimes I choose well. Sometimes I don't.
Therefore, when I do respond in ways I feel appropriately for me, I will do so as an individual and not speaking on the behalf of this congregation, unless called to do so. I will not respond in anger with those who disagree with my willingness to stand against injustice, whether it be for limits on semi-automatic guns or magazine clips that allowed four hundred and fifty bullets to be fired in a just a few short minutes in a crowded space, or the injustices that come with all the "isms" of our day.
The statement of faith I shared at the beginning of this article is my statement of faith as well. I share this statement and this article openly with you so you understand why I will no longer be silent. I don't ask you to stand for it, nor will I criticize you if you are against it. I will strive to no longer fill my emptiness with silence or cynicism or rage, but with the mercy, love, and compassion because of the One I call my Redeemer.
NOVEMBER MESSAGE FOCUS
11/12 – Extravagant Hospitality: Holy Welcome – Matthew 10:40-42
"In the United Church of Christ, we claim extravagant hospitality at the heart of our vision for the church, and we commit to live that out the best we can. Jesus, interestingly, doesn't speak of extravagance here but of one little cold cup of water."- Kate Huey (UCC- Weekly Seeds)
What is the "cup of cold water" that you offer others?
11/19 – Prepping for the Apocalypse: Extravagant Hospitality to the Family – Psalm 107:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Do you dread the annual "Family Thanksgiving dinner?" There are two little words that may help you to be thankful even during those sometimes "tense" gatherings?
11/26 – To What Church Would Jesus Belong? – Acts 2:42-47
People want a church that is true to Jesus, aligned with his ministry and mission. Would Jesus want to belong to Spring Creek?