No longer intimidated

standing-alonethis was not the first post i wanted to make in my comeback.

i was thinking more about a “top 10″…or goals for 2013…or an epitaph for norval.  but no.  i had to decide to get all frustrated tonight.

great.

i’m not sure there have been enough days passed since the tragedy in newtown to allow for sensitive discourse.  i’m not sure there will ever be enough days.  i don’t want to trivialize what happened.  i don’t want to use it as an object lesson.  it is simply not time to stop grieving.  but i don’t want to wait any longer to say what’s on my heart.

a couple of weeks ago, president obama spoke at a memorial service for the victims of the sandy hook shootings.  as i listened to his words, i remembering saying to myself, “no…please, no.”

here is what he said:

” ‘Let the little children come to me,’ Jesus said, ‘and do not hinder them. For such belongs to the kingdom of Heaven.’ God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on.”

god has called them home.  really?  maybe, in some strange way, we could say that god welcomed them home.  but don’t say that he called them home.  i think the president meant well when he said these words.  they are common words for christians to say in times of mysterious and tragic death.

“god’s ways are higher than ours.”…“god’s timing is always perfect.”…“god is sovereign and on his throne.”…“god always knows best.”…“sometimes it’s really difficult to understand god’s will.”   i’ll admit.  it sure sounds good.  spiritual.  the kinds of words people expect me to say in times like these.

i’m clergy, for crying out loud.  it’s the stuff i’m supposed to say.  but i’m not.  and i won’t.   for me, “god called his children home” sounds way too much like “god murdered 27 children and adults”…the specific ones he wanted…and that he sovereignly guided the gunman down the right hallway, to the right rooms, to the right little faces that he desired to take away.  i’m sorry.

i’m not buying.  i may be in the minority of pastors and theologians these days.  i’ve certainly not hopped on the bandwagons of the biggest guns and most popular church talking heads.  but i don’t believe in a god who manipulates killers to do his will.  no matter how theologically trendy that doctrine might be.

i don’t believe in a god who decides to punish a nation by refusing to stop the slaughter of these innocent children… because he’s no longer allowed in public schools.   i’m sorry governor mike and dr. james, but this is just disgusting and offensive teaching that is driving people away from a belief in god.

…not to mention a heartless and insulting assault on the wounds of grieving families.

i know there are stories in the old testament where god does some things that are beyond rational explanation.  but i also know that at the right time, god took on the form of a man and lived among us…and that jesus redefined what it meant to live as a human.

and he gave us a perfect picture of god…in both word and action.

Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”   John 14:8-9

i am neither ashamed nor intimidated to proclaim that the jesus i know would never orchestrate the mass murder of people.  and this makes him no less sovereign…no less powerful…no less “god”.

and his promise to be with us…to comfort us…to teach us…to empower us to make a difference…and to bring good out of tragedy…is more real to me now than it’s ever been.

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6 thoughts on “No longer intimidated

  1. The rhetoric is truly disgusting, untimely, and so uncompassionate I can’t with my feeble mind begin to understand the motivation. Because if I begin to think I can, I lose hope for humaity (and that is clearly, I hope, not something I can live with) This might be your most powerful, insightful, and dangerous post to date. And for that I thank you.

  2. Thank you for the post. It seems right on to me. I think at best, people try to make sense out of something so senseless, or try to provide some measure of comfort where words fail. At worst, people use it to further promote whatever beliefs or agendas they have. Either is unfortunate when it confuses the reality of God’s love for us . . . and truly, it does not provide comfort other than the knowledge that many people are trying to care in the best, although limited, way they know how.

  3. My mind and faith has been unsettled. I have
    to admit that the service you spoke after the tragedy. I was wanting to jump up and say please Pastor tell us more, tell us from your words what is Gods meaning to this. We look for those words that can help us from people that have greater depth of spiritual meaning. Thank You for telling it the way
    You do and not letting it simply go away.

  4. Thank you for you comments here. I know that I have said some things in times of grief that i wish I could have gobbled back up. I’ve even said some things in funeral messages that I planned that seemed right at the time but I regretted later.

    I liked where you went in your sermon yesterday. We can confidently say that “The Lord is our shepherd” without having to explain how He is doing His shepherding.

    There are many comforting Scriptures:
    Paul’s words in Romans 8 are still true! 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Todd shared this in the Bible School class following your sermon.)

    Jesus’ words in John 14 are full of promise. 14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

    God give us the wisdom to know when His words need no commentary. May our confidence in His words be displayed in our peace and actions of love.

    Thanks again, Mike!

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