By Ed Sciulli
We are getting too good at this. We have had way too much practice.
Our national post-tragedy response routine.
We collectively cry out at the shock and horror. Then we struggle to express our sympathy and solidarity with the victims and their families. So we change our Facebook profile pictures and start a hashtag.
It isn’t enough. Not this time. Why this time, as opposed to any other of the national tragedies? Because this is now, and we must do better. As a nation, we must do better. As a church we must do better.
This isn’t about the efficacy of prayer. As Christians, we indeed have a duty to hit our knees (or whatever prayer posture you assume) and petition the Lord to intervene, to comfort those destroyed by the senseless violence, to make us whole again. And prayer is powerful.
But it isn’t enough.
As both a nation and a church, we have to do more. Our action cannot simply be limited to private or even corporate conversations with God. We have to act. We have to engage.
How we engage as a country is a topic for another day, another discussion. How we as a church should respond – it’s tricky because of the many factors involved but we can always, always, do what we are called to do best – be the light in the dark places.
Pastor Eddie Kaufholz had this to say in a piece from the Orlando Sentinel:
“So church, throw open your doors! Mourn with those who mourn — without even the slightest hint of agenda. Offer your funeral services, for free, for every single person killed in this attack. Start cooking, and bring food to the hospital — now. Load everyone in the church van and donate blood. In short, do what it is you do best — be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And pastors, stand up in your pulpit and declare from the depths of your soul that nothing like this can ever happen again. There is no justification in Jesus’ words for such tragedy, and there is no justification for the church to be anything other than the most loving, warm, and welcoming place in all of Orlando.”
Now is the time for our church and every church to do our job. We have to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We have to throw open the doors of our churches and our homes and make them safe places for all people. All people. We have to fight injustice and hate, and join with others doing the same, even if they don’t believe the exact same way we do. We have to mourn, truly mourn, those who were lost and those who were left behind. We need to be seen serving our communities without pretense or agenda. We have to engage in responsible political discourse and do our diligence as citizens. This is our call. The world is watching, and we need to offer more than hashtag. When we don’t, we fail. Author Steven Pressfield puts it like this:
“If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along in its path back to God.”
We have been called to here to be the hands and feet, to be the light, to be Jesus as best we can until He comes back. We have been called to do it now.
Here is your charge, once again from Pastor Eddie Kaufholz: “For the love of Christ, Church, now is the time for you to do your job. Be who Jesus hoped you’d be.”