I went to bed Saturday night after having read the news of the shooting in El Paso, Texas. I awoke Sunday morning to news about another shooting in Dayton, Ohio. As a pastor, I felt a responsibility and an urge to talk with the Sunday morning congregation about the events. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t part of the “order of service” that had already been set and sent out to the team.
But neither had we planned on these shootings.
So, before I arrived at Sunday Morning Venues, I wrote these thoughts and then shared them during our services:
Today we mourn over our country that has once again witnessed the evil of hate.
We grieve over the state of our land.
We humbly open ourselves to the real possibility that we have ignited the flames of hate. As James writes, “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:5-6).
We confess our sin.
We long for the day seen by the prophet Isaiah and fulfilled in the Christ we see in Jesus, when, “Violence will disappear from your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there (Isaiah 60:18).
We express our hope.
As children of God we accept the call to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
We renounce every expression of violence.
Violence of the tongue. Violence of the gun.
Violence in the heart. Violence with the hand.
Violence with a post. Violence with a text.
Instead, today, our mouths will speak blessings not cursings; love not hate. (James 3:9-10).
Today, …our feet will move to spread the good news of peace (Isaiah 52:7).