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Love Begets Love Begets Love
Dear Trinity Church and friends,
Lord, have mercy.
We already know what the headline will read: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where ‘This’ Regularly Happens.” The article that follows will quote a fictional resident of a nearby town: “‘This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,’ echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations.”
Satiric newspaper, The Onion, publishes this same lede after every mass shooting, changing only the locations and the numbers of victims. Last week, the article began, “BUFFALO, NY – In the hours following a violent rampage in upstate New York in which a lone attacker killed 10 individuals and injured three others …” Tonight’s will begin, “UVALDE, TX,” and the account of this new horror – the details of which we are still learning – will follow.
Challenged to grapple another devastation – last week’s massacre inspired by racist hate, today’s slaughter of school children for unknown motives, both allegedly committed by young men still teenagers themselves – our sadness mingles with feelings of helplessness. These events seem at once entirely out of our influence, and, yet, as inevitable as The Onion’s repeating headline portends. In response, we ask questions of “theodicy,” the defense of God’s goodness in the face of such suffering.
As named in February when Russia invaded Ukraine, these shootings are not God’s plan – we are God’s plan: you and me and Trinity Church and all of us who comprise the Body of Christ in the world. All we do – here and everywhere, tonight and always – makes a difference, aligning us either with God’s hopes or the world’s violence.
Therefore, in response to these murders and every atrocity, we pray and we love. In devotions shared and personal, we “hold fast to what is good,” and we “love one another with mutual affection” (Romans 12:9-10). And while such responses will inevitably feel meager – what could possibly seem enough in moments so grievous? – we take heart in the Easter promise that Love begets Love begets Love, and that in nurturing Beloved Community where and how we can, the world might be healed.
I commend two prayers from our Book of Common Prayer:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Creator; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
For the Human Family (Adapted)
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus, your Christ: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Praying comfort for the grieving, we “commend all who have died into the arms of God’s mercy and to the glorious company of the saints in light.”
The Rev. Morgan S. Allen