When I log on to Facebook, it asks me, “Sean, what is on your mind?”. Oh Facebook, sometimes you don’t want to know. Some days, that would be too long of a post to make! And yet, at this time, so many thoughts seem to be flooding my head, and heart as well. I’m thinking about Spring and the newness of life that comes with it. How we’re fast approaching Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter. That I leave for World Conference in just three weeks from today! How I have to watch live streams and clips of the Taylor Swift “Eras” Tour on TikTok because I still don’t have tickets to see it in person! I think about Greg and Alice, both of whom I know from Oregon. One recently passed away after losing a battle to cancer and the other because age caught up with her. I also think of Viola and Carol, both of whom recently passed away in our mission center and though I never got to meet them in person, I know they were well loved here. I think about how I will be traveling to Maui in May for a friend’s 30th Birthday trip. I also think about the constant legislative attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly those who are trans, in states around the nation.
And then my brain also goes to this…
I was in 8th grade when the mass shooting at Columbine happened. It affected me greatly as a young teenager. Often waking up in the middle of night with nightmares of it happening at my school. 11 years after I graduated, I was standing in the foyer inside our Temple in Independence, Missouri. I was at the 2014 Peace Colloquy. And while talking to Rob Borkwoski and Janne Grover, a text alert from Huffington Post came across my phone. School Shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. This was my high school. Where I had graduated. I went to the local coffee shop on Independence Square to read the updates and watch the kids on the news be escorted in a single file line from their classrooms, the classrooms I once was a student in. Though I was no longer attending, my nightmares had turned into a reality. Just this week in Denver. More gun violence in our schools. When lives are cut short in safe spaces for the young… O God, out of the depths, we cry.
The above is text from the sermon I gave at Colorado Springs Community of Christ just this past Sunday. Then the news came on Monday morning. Another Mass Shooting at a school. Of those who died that day, 3 of them were under the age of 10. My heart breaks again. I’m left wondering, “How many people? HOW MANY CHILDREN!?”
Earlier this week while driving to the RMMC Office on Tuesday Morning, “We Are The World” starts playing in the car from my the playlist on my phone. “There comes a time. When we heed a certain call. When the world must come together as one. There are people dying. Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life. The greatest gift of all.” And then the chorus begins, “We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day”. My friends, tears just started pouring like waterfall down my cheeks as I drive into work that day and considered this song in light of what took place at Covenant school in Nashville, TN.
As I noted above, Holy Week is fast approaching. We will soon be entering a time where we reflect on Jesus. Jesus on the Cross. And I have to wonder at times like this, when we fail our kids to the point where schools can no longer be safe spaces because of the high rate of gun violence in our country, does Jesus stay on the cross? Does our inability to address the issues that are related to gun violence keep Jesus on the cross? Resurrection Sunday is coming. The hope celebrated and embraced by an Easter People because of the Resurrection is coming. So therefore, again, I have to wonder, what is our response to the issues in our world today that seem to keep Jesus on the cross rather than embracing the hope of new life?
I realize this week’s focus may not be the version of inspiration you anticipated in our weekly update today. But my friends, this is where we are at, yet again. As we continue our journey through these last few days of Lent and into Holy Week towards Easter, may we consider our response as a people of faith. Not just in response to what has happened but also because of our calling to be at the forefront of practicing the teachings of Christ as we seek to reduce future tragedies from occurring.
I was once asked by a congregation what they could do to engage their community in opportunities that would require minimal funds. I suggested sponsoring Community Meetings to explore the various perspectives related to the issues that their specific community as well as the nation and world was facing. To put Faithful Disagreement and Unity in Diversity into practice through intentional listening and compassionate sharing. As Community of Christ, maybe that is a good place for us to start.
We are a people dedicated to the pursuit of peace. Let us continue to not only pray for peace but to act for it as well.
This was originally shared with the Rocky Mountain Mission Center for Community of Christ in their weekly update on Thursday, March 30, 2023.