Dear St. Lukers,
It is with heavy hearts we write to you as we process the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The count as of now is 19 children, second grade through fourth grade, and two teachers who are dead in another senseless school shooting. Many are in the hospital and the whole town aches with grief and anguish. As does the nation.
This shooting falls on the heels of the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York where 10 were killed by a young man with racist intentions. And a shooting at a Taiwanese congregation in Southern California motivated by race-based hatred.
This week in Florida, students stood outside a middle school holding placards with a racial slur, with some letters written in red, posting it to social media. In Ohio, students placed “blacks only” and “whites only” signs on water fountains in their high school to post on social media before taking them down.
“In everything,” Jesus said, “treat others as you would be treated.”
We are so far from the Kingdom living Jesus has been inviting disciples into since that first teaching on a mountain centuries ago. While we do need action to follow up our belief that enough is enough, we also do need prayer and worship. To seek healing for victims and families, to pray for those who have been revictimized after already burying their children in Sandy Hook, Parkland, California, and so many other sites. We need to allow our anger to be turned from hatred, toward action fueled by the Holy Spirit. We need to come together to remember where our foundation truly lies, in the power of Jesus Christ and His calling toward a Kingdom of Heaven view of the world.
Starting today at 5:00 p.m., our Prayer Chapel will be open through the weekend as a place to pray and offer commitments to action. There will be three screens of candles representing the victims of the three latest shootings, as well as Communion elements on the altar. You may go pray, receive communion, and list your prayers and ways you believe you can commit to making a change.
Maybe it’s commitment to support sensible gun laws, or to volunteer in local schools. Maybe it’s to work toward anti-racism, or to help us educate our children on how to be more empathetic and understanding of differences. Maybe it’s the action of volunteering with our youth or youth in schools who are being bullied or feel isolated or alone in their feelings. Maybe it’s as simple as making sure the children in your own neighborhood know they are loved and valued.
Come by anytime today (Thursday) from 5:00-9:00 p.m., Friday from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., or Saturday from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., and let’s prepare our hearts for worship this Sunday. This week our Scripture closes out the Sermon on the Mount with Jesus words from Matthew 7:24-29:
“Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Let’s go to the rock, our foundation, for prayer and worship this weekend, and then let’s start building something together, or individually. Let’s take the time this week before Sunday to examine what we have used as the foundation for our life, our communities, even our nation. Is our foundation made of things of this world, or things associated with the Kingdom of Heaven? Let’s take the time to say the names of victims, pray for their families, and ask God “what can we do?” Then let’s love God and one another in worship in order to go lead our lives differently, for our community, for our families, for our nation, for the children.
In deep anguish and holding on to hope,
Your Clergy Team
One of the things we can do is to be a part of our annual remembrance of the Pulse tragedy by attending our upcoming events hosted by St. Luke’s and the onePULSE Foundation, featuring blogger, author, and pastor John Pavlovitz. John became most famous with his blog entitled “If I have Gay Children,” and became an ally for the church welcoming and standing in the gap for the LGBTQ+ community.
On Saturday, June 4 we will have a student rally for all youth in Founder’s Hall, holding the value that We See all Youth. There will be music, John Pavolvitz and a panel of local teenagers, as well as free food!
On Monday, June 6 we will gather in Founder’s Hall again for words from John, followed by a panel led by Dr. Joel Hunter, Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, along with local teachers and leaders to talk about how we stand in the gap for our LGBTQ+ neighbors.
Learn more and RSVP by visiting st.lukes.org/onepulse.