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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (August 2012)

posted Aug 27, 2012, 5:02 AM by Pastor Russ Crouthamel

Pastor’s Notes

I had originally wanted to share with you my thoughts on the parish “Purpose Statement and Guiding Principles” (the posters with this information found in the narthexes of both church buildings).  Nevertheless, I woke up this morning (July 20th) and saw a very disturbing story on AOL News.  The story said how a gunman walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, set off tear gas, and then proceeded to open gunfire.  The update on this story is that twelve people were killed and 59 people were wounded. 


My initial, gut reaction to this situation was, “I hope that guy gets the death penalty!”  But then, after many minutes of thinking about the situation, I thought of two things.  One, we need to pray.  We need to pray for victims and their families of senseless acts.  We need to pray that we will respond with care and help to individuals who have the potential for this type of violence.  We even need to pray for the perpetrator, that he will find redemption for the actions he committed.  Second, as humans, our first reaction to violence can typically be thoughts or actions of retaliation and vengeance.  But that is not the way of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus tells us we should find forgiveness for those who have hurt us, to turn the other cheek, and walk the path of non-violence. 


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer.  But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well… You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be like your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44).


Our human response to violence is to respond with violence.  Maybe we don’t respond with physical violence, but we can and do respond with violent thoughts or words.  We get angry, frustrated, and actively or passively aggressive.  Yet, for many of us, once those initial thoughts and feelings are processed, we begin to find healing and peace.  Sometimes we may even move towards forgiveness.  And this journey of healing, peace, and forgiveness might even lead us to the understanding that violence can never be the answer to violence.  Our Savior calls us to walk the path of non-violence.  We walk the path of non-violence by forgiving one another (instead of retaliating), loving both neighbor and enemy (even when they have wronged us), and striving for peace (one of the hardest things to do in a world plagued by violence).     


Now, don’t get me wrong.  I still advocate for a justice system where people must serve time for their crimes.  I support and pray for our troops who serve this country (war will always be a part of sinful humanity).  And I firmly believe victims of abuse must get out of their situations and not respond to their abuse by “turning the other cheek” (I don’t think Jesus would have wanted that).  Nevertheless, the kingdom of God will ALWAYS be about bringing the peace, love, and grace of God in Christ Jesus.  We cannot offer that message if we ourselves act and think in ways contrary to Christ’s message of non-violence, forgiveness, and peace.      


Sometimes walking the path of non-violence and peace may cost us our lives.  Look at Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and even our own Savior, Jesus Christ.  They died for speaking against the status quo in non-violent ways.  We take that same risk as followers of Christ.  We are always at risk because Jesus’ ways are not the ways of the world.  Yet, we find strength that God in Christ will guide us, keep our paths straight, and lift us up to live in the kingdom.


In Christ – Pastor Maureen     


Prayer:  Good and Gracious God, pour out your Spirit of peace, forgiveness, and healing on this broken world.  Lift us up to walk the paths of non-violence and peace, so all may experience your coming kingdom.  Amen.