Dear Basic UMC Family,
The grace of Jesus Christ and the consolation of the Holy Spirit be with you. Words fail to express our shock and grief following the senseless violence in Las Vegas. Senseless violence, but not meaningless loss, for each life lost is deeply lamented by our loving God. They are our fellow human beings made in God’s very image. Whenever violence strikes God’s image-bearers, the image of God is violated.
Matthew 11:12: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the reign of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.”
As Christians, how should we respond to (in the words of our District Superintendent Rev. Dave Rocheford) “acts of shocking violence, whether committed by lone individuals, groups of persons, or nation-states?” How do we make sense of senseless violence committed by cruel human beings? Sin belongs to humanity, and our sin is the failure to love.
Violence and injustice are not God’s will. Jesus came to teach us to work together to bring about the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10) . . . that is, a peaceful and loving society in which we are living in right relationship with God and right relationship with one another. Jesus, the Son of God, taught us to love one another deeply as he has loved us deeply.
1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
One of the ways that we express our love for the peoples and families in Las Vegas is to weep with them deeply as we pray deeply that the hearts of individuals, groups of people, and nation-states will be moved toward more love, less violence.
Weep with and pray for the people and families of Las Vegas as you read these words:
“The elders of Jerusalem
sit on the ground in silence.
They throw dust on their heads
and put on rough cloth to show their sadness.
The young women of Jerusalem
bow their heads to the ground in sorrow.
My eyes have no more tears,
and I am sick to my stomach.
I feel empty inside,
because my people have been destroyed.
Children and babies are fainting
in the streets of the city.”
And yet our hope is found in God alone. To quote Rev. Rocheford, “God through Jesus Christ has overcome the very worst of what humankind can do by transforming our cruelty into his redemptive suffering and resurrection.” Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again and fulfill the reign of God, the eternal reign of love, justice, and peace on earth. Until then, may we faithfully enact the reign of God on earth. May the love of Jesus in us be a beacon of hope in a world of sin. May our love cover a multitude of sins so that hearts will change.
And in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., may God give us “the strength to love.”
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.