And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Good Afternoon PCC,
This past Sunday morning as PCC pastors gathered early to pray for our gatherings, we were discussing making space in each service to pray for the communities of Gilroy, CA, and El Paso, TX, who had experienced mass shootings since the previous Sunday. Carlos DeVitis quickly and solemnly informed us of a third shooting in Dayton, OH. There was a collective silence in the room.
As we live in the wake of this reality, especially given the vernacular of our Face to Face series, and the fact that 31 faces no longer have life because of these senseless acts of evil, I wanted to give us a perspective and some tools to grieve. We grieve on so many levels. We grieve not only the murders; we also grieve and denounce the white supremacy mindset that motivated the El Paso shooter.
Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, TX, a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online. It spoke of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners.
Yet in the midst of these manifestations of evil, stories have emerged from Dayton and El Paso of love and grace. A 25-year-old woman was killed while shielding her 2-month-old son. Her sister said: “From the baby’s injuries, they said that more than likely my sister was trying to shield him … She was holding him and she fell on him. So he pretty much lived because she gave her life.”
When a kid burst into a Foot Locker shouting about the active shooter, a soldier’s courage kicked in. “I didn’t even think. I just grabbed as many kids as I could and ran down to the exit,” he said. “I wasn’t focused on myself … I was just focused on those kids.”
At PCC, we are unashamedly for life. We are for all life and lament when any life is senselessly taken … whether that life be in utero, at the end of life, or on the receiving end of any crime, including mass shootings. While politicians and others debate gun reform (as we should!), as Christ followers, we know the ultimate solution to evil in our culture will only come through Gospel reform that Jesus brings to human hearts.
Perhaps this is what the mayor of El Paso was alluding to when he said, “We’re dealing with a tragedy of 22 people who have perished by the hateful, evil act of a white supremacist. I don’t know how we deal with evil. I don’t have a textbook for dealing with it other than the Bible.”
Let us be mindful and prayerful as a community. Mindful and prayerful for those in our midst for whom these tragedies trigger grief because of the pain they have personally experienced through racism or senseless acts of violence. Prayerful for God’s protection, mercy, and awakening in our land.
Let us pray that God’s Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
Some valuable resources follow.
I love being your pastor,