Another day, another mass shooting. That seems to be the attitude of many people in our country right now. We have become numb to the number and the scale of the violence in our society. The latest occurred at a place most of us would consider to be safe—a synagogue. 11 people gunned down by a man fueled by an irrational hatred of Jews. We mourn with those affected; our leaders offer their “thoughts and prayers,” and in a couple of weeks, the news cycle moves on to something new (often another horrific act of violence). Little if anything seems to change. I am not confident that this latest hate crime will change the gun laws. If the killing of innocent little children couldn’t motivate our lawmakers to change one law, or the slaughter of concert goers in Las Vegas couldn’t move us to change any laws, like the banning of bump stocks, then I’m afraid that this latest shooting won’t do it either.
Gun laws aside, this latest attack was once again motivated by hate. There has been a rise in hate crimes over the last couple of years. Groups that espouse hate, whether that is for people of a different religion, or a different ethnicity, or a different sexual orientation, seemed to be emboldened. As Facebook and Twitter take down reported hate sites, others pop up. Gab.com is one such site. It’s used by racist of every stripe to share their ignorant and horrific views without the fear of their content being taken down. Hatred or disdain (or in the very least suspicion) for “the other” is seemingly being promoted these days.
What’s the answer to this? It’s love. Love is the only force strong enough to counteract the hate that is being spread in our country (and throughout the world for that matter). As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Love is the only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend.” Perhaps this is why Jesus told us to practice the most radical kind of love we can—by loving our enemies. So the more hate people sow, the more love we need to sow.
This is what being a church that accepts all people is all about—sowing love and acceptance in the world. Love for those on the margins. Love for those who have traditionally been met with scorn and judgment by the church and society; love for those who struggle with mental health issues; love for those who struggle with addiction. I would fear for our society except for the fact that I know love is so much stronger than hate. I would fear for our society except for the fact that I know that the vast majority of people in our society have kind and good hearts. Those that hate and spread hate are in the minority. I would fear for our society except for the fact that I know God is ultimately in charge, and that God’s will—to love others unconditionally—will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I will continue to place my hope in the love of God. And at the same time, I will work towards a more just (and safe) society. The answer to the gun violence in our country is not more guns (e.g. arm everyone). The answer to gun violence, and all other kinds of violence, is to share God’s love with others. That’s the only thing that can change a person’s heart. I’ll see you in worship.
Sermon Texts, Themes, and Titles for November
November 4th: This Changes Everything! The Scripture passage will be Matthew 28:2-7 and the theme will be the power of our resurrection hope. This will be #9 in our series Unshakeable Hope.
November 11th: Joy Comes in the Morning! The Scripture passage will be Psalm 30:5 and the theme will be living out our joy in every circumstance. This will be #10 in our series Unshakeable Hope.
November 18th: Power! The Scripture passage will be Acts 1: 1-8 and the theme will be on the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. #11 in the series.
November 25th: Justice Will Prevail! The Scripture passage will be Acts 17:3, Matthew 25:31-46 and the theme will be the justice of God. This will be the last sermon in the series.
December 2nd: Peace! The Scripture passage will be John 14:23-27 and the theme will be the peace Christ gives us. This will be the first Sunday in Advent.
Worship is a vital part of a growing and vibrant faith. So make sure you attend on a regular basis. And bring a friend or two with you. It’s a great way to introduce someone to Jesus.
Centralia First United Methodist Church 506 S Washington Ave 98531 360-736-7311