Nation, we’ve had a rough seven months.
Superstorm Sandy. Newtown. The Boston Marathon. West, Texas. Moore, Oklahoma.
And there are more tragedies that don’t make the national news, or at least not to the same degree. The Mother’s Day shooting in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. Other school shootings. Gang violence. Homophobic violence. Massive fires in Southern California. Natural and unnatural disasters.
It’s all a bit too much for us to take at times. For many of us, our first reaction is shock and shared grief. It may hit very close to home (for us, my husband’s cousin lost their home in Sandy, my in-laws live in Newtown, and we own a home in Southern Oklahoma where we lived just a year ago) or it may just be the shared shock and grief we have when a child, the epitome of innocence and hope and joy, is killed.
For others, our first reaction is to act. How can we help? What can we do? We hear the stories of heroes, the First Responders, the ones who put their own lives in danger to save the lives of others. We hear the stories of teachers who bravely shielded the children in their classroom from bullets or tornadoes. We want to do something that can help and honor those who have given of their lives.
But still, for some, there is a need to say something. A need to speak, a need to put meaning into words. And this is very, very dangerous ground. There was a flurry of activity on Twitter yesterday, much of it deleted today, but the stings of those words are still fresh.
From the right, we hear this is God’s will. We hear Scripture spoken as if to say this is part of God’s plan. We hear words of judgment and condemnation of those who claim to speak for God.Those words, even if one agrees with them, do NOT bring comfort to those who are mourning, do NOT bring healing to those who are hurting.
From the left, we hear blame. We hear messages about climate change, lack of funds for disaster relief, and poor payment of teachers. We hear words of judgment and condemnation towards those who disagree with them. While one might agree with these opinions, those words do NOT bring comfort to those who are mourning, do NOT bring healing to those who are hurting.
Church, we are called to be different. We are called to be Living Hope. We are called to both action and silence.
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” John 11:32-37
Perhaps our own response ought to be silence, weeping, and then action. Perhaps words are utterly unnecessary, and even harmful.
*You can give through the One Great Hour of Sharing (Week of Compassion) in your local Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), American Baptist, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Church of the Brethren, Presbyterian Church USA, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, AME Zion, and Reformed Church in America to help those in Oklahoma with tornado disaster relief.