It’s hard to believe, but June and summer are suddenly already upon us! I’ve enjoyed the new seasonal worship services at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and certainly encourage you to do the same! In fact, next Wednesday (6/8), we will celebrate “Red Carpet Night” and formally offer thanks to all of the worship assistants who have helped to make Sundays and Wednesdays possible this year! Come join in offering them our gift of gratitude with worship at 6:30 and an ice cream social following.
This week, we will be highlighting “Pentecost Sunday,” that often mysterious occasion when the newborn church was given the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit. While some years it might seem hard to appreciate this highlight of the liturgical year, that doesn’t appear to be the case this year. There is plenty of power both to claim and to exercise humbly on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced.
Even before I had a chance to remove our chair display in the front yard (created in memory of the 21 children and adults who were killed in Uvalde last week), we arose today to news of yet another mass shooting. Over Memorial Day, there 14 more mass shootings. There have been 27 school shootings and 229 mass shootings (four or more victims) in the US since January 1, 2022. Yet because of our differences over guns, we find ourselves paralyzed by gridlock and nothing seems to change.
One of the words in Scripture used to define the Holy Spirit is “advocate,” which I understand to be one who give support to the marginalized and voice to the voiceless; an advocate is one who is at our side in times of trial. This certainly seems to be one of those times.
If you have not done so already, I encourage you to claim the power of the Spirit within you and, within the presence of the community as a whole, to be voices of advocacy. In other words, I ask you to sit down today and write your state and federal legislators to act on the issue of gun violence. I won’t speak for you or tell you what to say, but I will share what I am saying. It is a letter that I wrote based on a letter that another pastor shared with me. You are welcome to borrow or edit anything you feel expresses your own impatience with change on this chronic and tragic issue of public safety.
Meanwhile, if you have children within your own home who are asking questions about these issues, I would refer you to the information sent out by the Grant Wood AEA to parents last week; it contains some helpful guidelines regarding when, what, and how to share conversations on these issues with children when appropriate. This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists is available. In addition, Grant Wood AEA has resources on the Critical Incident Stress Management Page under Handouts, Parents, and Additional Resources.
I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit is given to us for just such purposes. In the wake of the horrific month behind us, we can choose to throw up our hands and change nothing. Or we can hold our legislators accountable and ask that they work together both to address the complex root causes of such senseless violence and to develop better strategies to minimize frequency of all gun violence.
I hope that you will join me in claiming the power of the Spirit today.