Beloved of Christ,
Many of you saw the headline this morning. A gunman in Las Vegas opened fire on a concert, killing at least fifty people and injuring hundreds more in the largest mass shooting in recent United States history. These lives lost add to the more than 30,000 Americans alone who died in gun violence in the past year. We do not yet know many details, but hearing this devastating news we might feel angry, frightened, sad, alone, or numb. It may bring up old wounds from our experiences of violence and trauma. We may wonder how something like this could happen in God’s world, if the world will ever feel safe, and what else might happen in the future.
There are no easy answers to these questions. At times like these, I turn to the beatitudes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
– Matthew 5:1-11
Mourning and feeling poor in spirit is a holy response. If you are feeling lost and alone, in need of prayer or a space to grieve, First Lutheran Church will be open today for you and anyone in the community to offer prayers in silence, song, lighted candles, or other means. Pastor Emily will be available in that space and most easily reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Know, too, that together we hear God’s call to show mercy and make peace in the world – not a cheap or easy peace, but a whole and holy one. We will wrestle with these feelings and themes as we continue to gather in worship, prayer, study, and grief during the weeks ahead.
Yours in Christ,