Tag Archives: shootings

Is This War?

Sometimes I think we are at war. At war with the environment. At war with each other. At war with other countries. At war with whoever disagrees with us. At war with those who are different…even with those in our own families.

Yesterday, we all got word of another mass shooting, in another place where people are supposed to be free and safe. Shortly after that, the predictable war of words started because no one can agree on what to do. People immediately started criticizing one another about Why This is Happening Again. Someone even lashed out at the fact that someone else invoked prayer because “if prayer helped, people wouldn’t be shot in worship.”

All I know is it feels like more than any one of us can bear. It is too much. It is wrong. We are wrong. Nothing we are currently doing is working. Tearing one another apart is certainly not working either.

This Texas church shooting hits home for me because I’ve served the last 30 years as a pastor in a variety of churches in Texas. In the last decade or so, I sat in on meetings where we talked about what to do if this kind of unthinkable violence happened during worship. The sad truth was that no amount of security would help because churches are such open and welcoming places, filled with all kinds of people with all kinds of issues. Our doors, lots of them are open. I believe the same could be said of concerts, sporting events, parks…well, everywhere.

One expert said, “The best thing I can tell you as a pastor on the platform is to hold up a Bible or a hymnal and maybe you can deflect a shot…and then run.” I remember thinking, “I’m pretty sure I could not deflect a shot nor would I run from my people if that was happening. Never.”

I can’t even find words. I’m writing today to say, I can’t even find words.

In Isaiah, there is a glimpse of how it might be without war and it has to do with living more into the way we were created. As a person of faith, I still believe in that vision…where God’s reality includes no war. Swords, spears and even guns, vehicles and other things that destroy us turn into shovels, plows and hoes…tools for growing things and feeding people. Isaiah 2:4

God, today, I have no words. Can you please help us stop these wars? We cannot do it on our own.

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The Sweet and the Bitter

This past week I’ve been acutely aware of some milestone moments, like the two year anniversary of my cancer surgery.  I was aware of feeling so grateful not to be re-living that day again but also so happy to be two years down the road, still here, still healthy, enjoying life.   At the same time, our son got his Aggie ring at Texas A&M…you have to have 90 college hours to even order it.  Then, to get it, such a moment of pride and celebration.  We Aggies take Aggie rings very seriously.  We have 9 Aggie rings in our extended family.  Sweet.  

Intertwined with all that came the news of the shooting at the Naval yard shootings.  Bitter.

Friday night as we were celebrating with our son and his friends, we were on a covered porch enjoying dinner outside.  It was pouring rain and it was cool outside.  We haven’t seen rain in a long time in Texas, nor felt anything like cool air. Sweet. 

Then came the news of the shootings in the park in Chicago.  “Really?” I thought,  “Another shooting?”  Bitter.

Saturday was one of those amazing beautiful days in Texas, we were with our family and friends before and after a great Texas A&M football game.  Sweet. 

But in Kenya, there was terror, lives lost.  In Pakistan, a church shooting that killed so many.  Bitter.

I learned a long time ago that life is bittersweet.  The beautiful milestone moments are always mixed with difficult times.  I also learned a long time ago that none of us can be truly happy as long as one of us is suffering.    

What is so unbelievable is that we are doing it to ourselves.  Humans gunning down one another at work, in the park, in the mall in places of worship.   We do need saving from ourselves, we really do.