Apple Valley, Minnesota

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Reflections on another unnecessary, inevitable American tragedy

Before a word is spoken, focus your eyes on what has happened. Do not turn away from the ugliness and the horror. Keep silence, and listen to the soul-crushing laments of families losing loved ones. Hear their words. Feel their pain. For this is who we are. These are our family, our children. This is our suffering and death. This destruction is what we have wrought. Within the very DNA of our American culture, we have allowed a virus toxic to human life to grow unchecked. We have allowed the promises of founding documents and anecdotal successes to blind us to the danger within.
 
What then will we say? More lives sacrificed, the most recent incident claiming more children, sacrificed on the altar to our American Idol of unfettered, myopic, individualism as a “right.” There is perhaps no more painful or clear example of the truth that idol worship results in the visiting of the “iniquity of the parents on the children to the third and fourth generations.” This is not God’s doing but ours. So begins another round of thoughts, prayers, and songs of lament. But “faith without works is dead.”
 
Beyond this all-too-common period of national mourning, may we each and all of us together consider deeply what actions our anger, our pain, and our faith, are calling us to. Our God is not a God of hatred, vengeance, or violence. More guns, more prisons, more severe punishments are not the answer.
 
We must speak out to limit access to the kinds of weapons that make these mass executions more probable. We must not cut back, but rather invest in broader more equitable access to mental health resources. We must take responsibility for the effect of our thoughts, words, and actions in relationship to everyone in our nation, our communities, our schools, churches, mosques, and temples.
 
Perhaps the greatest challenge for we who worship at the altar of the American Idol of individualism, is to admit we must be willing to be vulnerable, open to being changed. Our God of Love calls us not simply into a personal relationship with God’s self, but also into a loving, creative relationship with all humanity. As people of faith who claim our allegiance belongs to Jesus, we are reminded that God was in Christ reconciling the world to God’s self.
 
Let us pray. Let us reflect. Let us act. In Jesus’ name, by the grace of God.

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