Many of you know that my brother was killed in Vietnam in 1968; I was 14 years old and it was the first-time death had really touched my life so profoundly. And I remember wondering why everything and everyone around me was moving on as if nothing had changed. I’m thinking about that a lot these days. It’s August and for many it means back to school and as the Conference Minister in KO, it means gearing up for Annual Meeting. And while Annual Meeting is important, it feels mundane in the face of mass shootings; senseless loss of life fueled by white nationalism and ICE raids that result in children leaving school only to learn that their families have now been ripped apart and if they had any sense of security, that has been shattered.
I wonder if some of those children and families in Dayton, El Paso and Mississippi wonder how we can just be “moving on” with business as usual? But we do, move on? Yes, we have to return to our routines, and “move on”; but I’m not sure it’s “business as usual”. We are all changed in some way; we are all traumatized in some way; aren’t we? You may have seen the resulting panic when a motorcycle backfired in Times Square or heard that the sale of bullet proof back backs has soared.
My prayer is that the hate that fueled El Paso, the senseless loss of life that is possible with assault weapons that can kill 9 people in 30 seconds; never becomes normal. May I never become so callous that my heart doesn’t ache, and I am not moved to action after seeing the image of crying children who don’t know where their parents are or when they will see them again. Yes, I have to plan for Annual Meeting; schools start; all of us have to do the work to which we are called; life can’t just stop. But may whatever we do, wherever we are, embody the call of the gospel to love one another, may we have courage in the struggle for justice and peace and may our actions speak volumes that we know that every single person is a precious, loved child of God. It’s not business as usual, but may we continue to #be the church in the very midst of a hurting world.