The mass shootings this past week in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio and Gilroy, California have once again brought us face to face with the horrible violence of which human beings are capable. We are plunged into shock and collective grief.
And we wonder. Who did this? What were the motives? Why these places in these particular cities? What about the mental health of the shooters? These and a host of other questions can only be answered after thorough investigations have occurred.
In the meantime, we listen. We listen to the law enforcement reports, to the hospital updates, and to those who were around when the shootings occurred. This listening leads us to pray without ceasing for those we are seeing and hearing.
And when we wonder what to say, I call us also to speak up using the important words found in our “Social Principles,” paragraph 162 in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church:
We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, status, economic condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation.
The New Testament lesson for Sunday, August 4, also gives us the direction we need in order to be living witnesses for Christ in a culture that glorifies violence and denigrates the sanctity of human life. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul from Colossians 3:
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above… for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: … evil desire…. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.”
Let us listen. Let us pray. But, brothers and sisters, let us be certain to speak the Gospel truth about violence in our world, in others, and in our own lives.
Let us be Alive Together in Witness.
R. Lawson Bryan