Tag Archives: Christian

Response to Tragedy

Candles

Another day, another senseless tragedy.  We are all trying to make sense of the news.  As Christians, though, what should we be doing?  I have some thoughts about that:

PRAY

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” – Ephesians 6:18 

As Christians everything begins with prayer (it is also what we during and after).  Prayer, though, is often ridiculed after a tragedy by those who believe that it is passive and doesn’t accomplish anything.  How wrong they are!  Prayer is an action that changes things and people.  Prayer invokes the power of the most high to heal, inspire, strengthen and to bring peace and comfort.  It changes those who pray, as such intimate contact with God transforms our hearts and pushes us to be more like the people God wants us to be.

But what we if don’t know what to pray for?  In times like this our minds and spirits can freeze and we’re left with no words.  That’s OK – God understands this.  The Apostle Paul even addressed this in his letter to the churches in Rome:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” – Romans 8:26

 

Be Patient

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23a

The transmission of news nowadays is almost instantaneous.  However, the investigation happens slowly.  Herein is where patience is required.  We want to know everything and we want to know it NOW!!  And instead of patiently waiting, we fume, we guess, and sometimes, we even make things up.  We speak and act rashly.  The news media makes all of this worse by feeling the need to fill up every second of every minute of every hour with something, ANYTHING.  I remember on 9/11 all of the stories about other planes, other attacks and most all of them amounted to rumor and fear.

We need to slow down.  We need to step away from the news. Hug your kids.  Call your parents and tell them you love them.  Walk your dog.  Read your Bible.  Visit a friend. I get it – we want to solve things.  We want hatred and violence to end.  But we need to know that we can’t fix anything unless we know what, exactly, the problem is.  And it takes time to piece together all the facts after a murderous incident.  So, in the meantime, be patient.

This also goes for using tragedies for political gain.  Sometimes I think that this is worse than the tragedy itself.  With the instantaneous nature of social media, we see such thing mere moments after a tragedy (sometimes even when the event is still happening!).  I find this ghoulish.  Already today I’ve seen the normal anti-gun advocates leaping up on the dead bodies (figuratively) to push for more gun control.  I’ve even seen someone blame it on racism and White Supremacy!  I’m reminded here of that old saying of “If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  We are not to profit from tragedy.  And we should at least wait until all the dead are buried before we start posturing.

As an aside, there should be some kind of rule wherein any proposed legislation after a tragedy would actually have prevented the attack.  After Newtown, there wasn’t a single proposed or implemented legislation that would have prevented what happened.  We have to suppress the urge to do SOMETHING and work toward actually fixing the problem.

Love, Don’t Hate

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21

There is going to be a lot of (misplaced) anger and hatred today and in the coming days and weeks.  People are frustrated and hurt and want and things like what happened to end.  So they lash out.  They strike at perceived enemies, people who they don’t agree with.  We humans, for some reason, need someone to blame.  And if we can’t (or won’t) blame the correct person or people (the one(s) pulling the trigger, or handling the knife or driving the car), we’ll blame someone or something.  And it isn’t pretty.  Just this morning I saw a teacher (not local) tweet that she hopes that only Trump voters were killed!  As angry as we might get, we are called to a higher response.  Christ taught us to be peacemakers and to forgive.  The Apostle Paul summed it up eloquently when he wrote “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Don’t respond in kind when someone says something ugly.  And don’t post anything that makes the situation worse.  Ask yourself, “Am I making things better or worse?  Am I shining the love of Christ into the darkness or am I part of the darkness?”

Love always wins. God’s love triumphs.  Be patient.  Be kind.  Pray constantly and don’t be overcome by evil.

Halloween – What’s a Christian to do about it?

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One of the first sermons I ever preached was about Halloween. I was very excited about this opportunity, but I had a conundrum.  On one hand, I was pretty new to my (renewed) faith and was ‘on-fire’ with the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, I had always loved Halloween.  When I was little my two favorite Saturday morning TV shows were Scooby-Doo and Creature Features. I grew up liking the strange, the monstrous and the spooky.  But how do I reconcile such an ‘evil’ holiday with my Christian faith? So I did what college trained me to do – I did research.  I Googled and I Yahoo’d (yes, this was a while ago) and I perused the church library.  Unfortunately I kept coming across confusing and contradicting information.  Worse, in almost everything I read there was no sourcing – no links or attributions to facts or scholarly articles.  Finally I came across a great website that actually had done all the proper research – Halloween: Myths, Monsters and Devils.  I encourage you to read all of the detailed research at that site, but the bottom line is that just about everything we think we ‘know’ about Halloween is simply myth and legend with no factual basis.

        One final observation may be in order: If the holiday is of such antiquity, and survived so long into Christian times among the Scots and Irish, then we would expect to find it as a major event, or even a minor event, in the lives of the Scots – Irish of the Appalachian Mountains and the Ozarks. In fact, we do not find it there at all, even among the practitioners of “folk magic,” or “witchcraft,” except after the cultural assimilation of the area into the American mainstream following World War One.

We would also expect to find it, along with all or most of the so- called “Druid” customs associated with it, in Medieval Western Europe. We do not.

There is no factual basis in Halloween being a Druidic, satanic or even witchen ‘holiday.’ In fact, there seems to be a lot of propaganda surrounding Halloween.

So, what’s a Christian to do about this day of ghosts and witches and goblins terrorizing our houses for tricks or treats?

Well, using as our foundation our new-found understanding of the origins (or lack thereof) of Halloween, let me state my thesis:

Halloween, like almost anything else, is what we MAKE of it.

Let me give you some examples to help explain this.  If I asked you what a swastika means, you would probably answer that it represents evil and horror and genocide (and I certainly wouldn’t argue with you about that!).

But…

…did you know that prior to Nazi Germany using and abusing the swastika, it was perceived globally as a symbol of good luck?

Swastika---Good-luck-emblem-of-ancient-america10

The Boy Scouts even had a good luck medal with the swastika on it:

Boy Scout Swastika

Before Nazi Germany, the swastika was one of the things that you’d see today being serially posted on Facebook (‘Share this good luck charm with your friends!’)

Now, of course, it means something completely different.  Its meaning was changed.

Think also of the cross.  Today it is a symbol of Christian hope, faith, love and grace.  But, 2000 years ago it was a symbol of death, torture and tyranny.

Again, its meaning was changed.

Which brings us back to Halloween.  We know now that, despite what people think, Halloween is NOT a satanic or even pagan holiday.  With that in mind we can make Halloween to be WHATEVER WE WANT IT TO BE.

Toward this end I am reminded of the years my family and I lived in Glen Burnie Maryland.  Were we lived was the epitome of the suburbs – houses lined up street after street.  While everyone was pretty friendly with each other, there was little sense of real community – real connectedness.  Except, that is, on Halloween.  On Halloween night when little witches and ghouls (and power rangers and pokemon) wander up and down the lighted streets in search of treats, the adults would pull out their lawn chairs and sit out front of their houses and actually carry on conversations with each other.  It was a time of true neighborliness.  It was a bucolic scene of fun and friends (and candy!).  To me, this is what Halloween is all about and I’m not going to let anyone else define it differently for me.

So, as a Christians I believe that we CAN celebrate Halloween – the positive aspects of it.  We should, though, refrain from the darker aspects (no Jason’s or Freddie’s) and simply enjoy an evening under God’s gracious love wherein we can connect to our friends and neighbors and, for one day at least, understand the joy in giving to those that come to our homes looking for something to eat!