Beloved Community in the Aftermath

by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.                                                            John 16:33

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.                                                            James 1:12

No matter your politics or stance on certain matters – this past week was heartbreaking.  Two major mass shootings, one which murdered simply because of skin color, and the other murdered innocent schoolchildren and their dedicated teachers.  The devastating sadness and senselessness of this is beyond words. 

The 6-year-old niece of a good friend of mine was killed at Sandy Hook in 2012 – nearly 10 years ago.  During the 5 minutes the murderer was in the Sandy Hook Elementary school, with an automatic weapon, he fired 154 rounds and killed 26 people, 20 of whom were young children under the age of 7.

Today that beautiful little girl would have a driver’s permit and be dreaming about her first prom. 

I am angry. I am inconsolable. And I find my prayers just ran dry this week, just like they did in 2012.

How does a Beloved Community come together in the wake of such evil acts?

We ask for action to reverse injustice and prevent such acts from occurring again.

We sit with those who mourn and be present with them.

And we pray.  We cry out to a faithful, loving God in Whom we place all our hope. We must pray. We must ignore the cynics. We must not become the cynics. We raise our prayers with full hearts. We raise our cries to the heavens, we let our despair be our prayers. And we listen to God answering in return. We trust God’s Will will be revealed, and wait to feel His perfect love and forgiveness and peace. We give ourselves over to opportunities to join in the Spirit’s work of binding up and healing. We love with all we’ve got, and never, ever surrender to the darkness.

The First Presbyterian Church of Uvalde, pastored by a friend of mine, the Reverend Gini Norris-Lane, held a virtual service of lament.  In it, she said “we come tonight because as those who follow Jesus, we don’t know what else to do but to gather in prayer…This space is one of prayer, one of offering our hearts, our lives and the heaviness, worry, grief, confusion and shock — it’s to offer all that to God. Even as we cry out, ‘We don’t know for how long, O Lord? What happened?’ We don’t understand, but we know God’s heart and God’s presence is large enough to hold all of us, to hold our whole community, all our families — to hold our whole world…We are God’s beloved people. We know nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We know the spirit of God is poured out upon us … and upon our community. We know the grace and comfort of God welcomes us home.”

We are the Beloved Community, made up of God’s precious children.  How we conduct ourselves as we talk about these kind of events, the words we use, the stance we take – I pray they reflect the Source of our hope and not the object of our fear.  Because if we are in Christ Jesus, we are His love and grace in a very hurting world.

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