Worship at Gloria Dei Saturdays 5:00pm, Sundays 9:00am and 10:30am

Lord, Have Mercy

Hello Gloria Dei,

I had written another version of this Friday Following message earlier this week. And then the unthinkable happened, again. Another mass shooting. To be very honest, I struggle with what to say. We all have been bombarded with news reports and social media comments. Is there something… anything to say?

Let me say this: I am a firm believer that the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection sets us free to live and act as Jesus calls us to live. The New Testament spells out for us in many and various ways that our lives are to imitate Christ. Our lives are to be lived not just for self, but sacrificially for others. Martin Luther tells us, correctly, that we are freed by Christ for the sake of loving and serving the neighbor.

I know there are many different viewpoints on what needs to be done to help slow down the number of senseless shootings happening way too regularly in our country. The alarming rate of gun violence in our country is a very complicated issue. There are multiple factors. Mental health, social media, easy access to assault style firearms, and more. What I hope we can agree on is that we need to do something. Despite what some social media posts indicate, thoughts and prayers are important. They really, really are. But God also equips us to use our hearts and minds to act creatively to help solve problems that harm our neighbors.

So, no matter how you may see this issue of gun violence, I, as your Sr. Pastor, ask you to put aside politics and put on your Christ likeness. Pray yes, and then act.

As one of your pastors, I will not tell you how to act. But I pray that you do act. As I said, you and I are set free from sin and death in order to serve and love others, maybe especially our children. We cannot sit back and do nothing. Your Christian faith is meant to inform you on all kinds of issues… indeed on all of life. Allow it to inform you on this one.

And so, no, I will not tell you how to act. But I will tell you how I will act. I will begin by repenting of my sin of too often failing to speak and act, not just on this issue, but on many others as well. I will be praying long and hard for God to bring comfort to the bereaved, but also bring openness to all of us to listen and to learn from one another. I will also be writing to Senators Rounds and Thune and Congressman Johnson.

I have met Senator Thune on a few occasions and consider him a thoughtful and good man. I will be asking him and our state leaders to put aside Republican and Democrat labels and to work at legislation that truly finds a way to make a real difference. Will legislation solve everything? Of course not. Yet, I believe, there are positive and important steps we can take to help slow down this scourge on society.

I am open to dialogue with you on this issue and anything else. I’d prefer to do it over the phone or in person, rather than email or text. My heart grieves, as does yours, for the families of the recent shootings. As you dialogue with me and others, do so with love and compassion in your heart. And do a lot of listening.

And so, yes, let us continue to pray. Prayer is important. It keeps us grounded as to the ways of God, it deepens our faith, and it really does change things. Yet let’s also speak and act, putting our faith into action. As imitators of Christ, let us put the needs of others over our own (See Philippians 2, our text for this weekend).

Speaking of giving for the sake of others, as our nation celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, let’s be sure to truly give thanks to God for those who have given their lives in service for this fine country. Find someone you know who has, or is, serving in any branch of the military and say thanks for serving in this way. We are grateful to God for them.

May God bless and keep you always,

Pastor Tim

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