Here are the words I offered Sunday morning in response to the tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado.
Lynda and I enjoy going out to a movie occasionally, as I’m sure most of you do. So the terrible news out of Colorado hits all of us especially hard. Who would have considered before Friday how incredibly vulnerable you are in a dark theater? In the wee hours of the morning, parents received calls that their children who had gone to a movie had been gunned down. It causes all of us to pause and wonder what kind of world are we living in?
A world with stupid gun laws, to be sure. And there has been no small measure of debate about this.
But of all the words filling our screens, I was most appreciative of Mark Holmberg’s counsel to remember that there are more life-savers than life-takers. The life-takers get the spotlight, but there are far more life-savers, and we should pause to celebrate them, and I would add, to consider how we might become one of them.
As I prayed about what words to offer you in light of the Aurora tragedy, here is what I was given:
The first characteristic of servant leadership in the church is the ability to recognize that the issue is always an inward one.
Mass murder is a long and frightening descent. We can assume that James Holmes, the shooter, has been descending into darkness for a long time. During his steep downward climb, someone had an opportunity to befriend him and for whatever reason they chose not to.
When we in the church speak about “sharing our faith,” what we mean is that some people had the opportunity to come alongside James and connect him with a church, a faith, his God. If he had found a friend, a group, a worshiping community; if he had become a follower of Jesus, his life would have been different, and this senseless tragedy that has touched so many lives would have been avoided.
What we need to ask ourselves today is how do we lift our vision beyond our own self centeredness and reach out to the hurting, troubled, confused person in our path. The person we overlook because they are a bother. The EGR—extra grace required person—we always avoid.
You and I are God’s hands and feet, God’s eyes and ears, Gods beating heart of compassion, long before any gun-fueled tragedy occurs. If we choose, if we say yes, we can be the agents God uses to stop violence before it starts. As we pause in our sadness and confusion this morning, we can give thanks for the thousands of Auroras that never happened because someone like you and me cared enough to be Christ to other troubled souls like James Holmes.
In the aftermath of tragedy, it helps me to remember some basic tenants of our Christian faith:
• Tragedy is the price God pays and we pay for our gift of freedom.
• We worship a God who suffers with us when we suffer.
• The God we serve knows what it is like to lose a child.
• The God of cross and resurrection promises that tragedy, injustice and death will not have the last word.