In the midst of other things, the news broke about yet another school shooting in the United States. This morning I opened a Facebook message – maybe you’ve seen it, too – that lists school shootings in the US since Columbine High School in 1999*. I scrolled and scrolled down the list in the tiny type on my phone. Scrolled and scrolled.
To watch tragedy unfold around the world, day after day, is more than any of our hearts can bear. To watch American decision-makers fail their basic duty to act in the best interests of the people while loudly proclaiming the importance of “law and order” is enraging. To watch countries led by men consumed with power and image destroy whole cities is mind-boggling. And when we are not watching those things, we are watching our own history of colonization and racism play out or we are watching the pain and suffering of ones we love, up close and personal. Some days it feels like a miracle that any of us get out of bed at all.
And, yet, I was also reminded this week that we believe in a “lovingly unreasonable God” and that we are allowed “to yell at God to keep God’s promises” and that we “are allowed to hope for the most ridiculous goodness**.” So here is what we are going to do, even if we do it from our beds with the covers pulled up tight until we can face the days again. We are going to yell at God to keep God’s promises of a kingdom of love and justice. We are going to stay or get engaged in our tiny corner of the world because we might not be able to fix international politics or corruption in the American political system, but we can known our neighbours. We can learn the names of sullen teenagers and ask them how they are. We can make eye contact with folks panhandling in front of stores. We can fill up a box or two of things for Ukrainian refugees. We can say aloud and often that mistakes happen. People act with callousness and evil. Our intent has not always been pure and good. (Because we can’t move towards healing if we aren’t willing to own our part in rupturing relationships). And we can hope for goodness – even impossible, ridiculous goodness. We can hope for an end to wars that seem to have no possible end. We can hope for an uprising of people whose “no more” is like a tidal wave of change. We can pray for the Holy Spirit’s power in the lives of those whom we love, those whom we do not understand, and those who seem farthest from God’s love. This is the month we remember the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the disciples like flames of fire. So may the Spirit’s fire burn and may our hope never go out.
Footnotes: *It was Facebook. I don’t know how accurate the list was or is. But I know that the list of mass shootings at schools and other public venues in the United States is larger than anywhere else in the world. **Also Facebook. This was a post by Pastor Lura Groen shared by a friend of mine.