Blessed Are The Peacemakers
Hello Beloved of Aldersgate:
Yesterday was one of those days. Unfortunately we’re having “one of those days” all too often these days. As many of you did, I woke up to the news of another mass shooting, this one directed towards Americans in the LGBTQ community in Orlando, FL. What was different about this one for me was that the timing was such that I did not get a chance to get my mind and heart around what was happening by the time worship started. I found out about it only about an hour before worship started. I believe that one of the reasons we gather for worship is talk, pray, and wonder about such events, but because of the timing and an already overfull service, I was not able to adequately address it, so I thought I would send this out today.
This was the worst mass shooting in US history. In an era where mass shootings are becoming disgustingly commonplace, we need to let that in. My heart breaks for the lives lost and those grieving those lives, as well as the entire LGBTQ community who live in enough fear as it is. These acts of violence and terror against our country and its many communities are deeply heart wrenching. There are many and varied opinions about such events; I have mine, and you have yours. We may or may not agree, and that’s ok. But as followers of Jesus, there is one thing on which we must agree: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
As violence seems to increasingly erupt around us, we are called to be peacemakers; that is, makers of peace. It may begin with prayer, but it should not end there. Our prayers should propel us to action towards peace. So I call upon all of us today to continue to be in prayer for peace, but also to step into being makers of peace. How will you, and how will I, be a maker of peace in my home, in neighborhood, in my workplace, in my school, in my church, my community, my nation and this world? Beloved, “blessed of the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
I want to leave my words with that, but I also want to share with you the words of our Bishop, Bruce Ough. I think he says it well (see below). Peace, friends.
Statement on the Orlando shooting
Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce R. Ough, in his role as president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, issued the following statement about the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida:
United Methodists across the world are horrified by the despicable act of terrorism in Orlando, Florida, that took the lives of 49 individuals and wounded 53 others.
We are in shock. We join those who grieve. We pray for the victims, their families, and the LGBTQ community targeted by this hateful attack. We stand against all forms of violence, committed anywhere in the world by anyone.
We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters who have condemned this heinous act. We pledge to work together to overcome evil with good, terrorism with peace, hatred with love, and inequity with justice.
We commend the Florida Annual Conference as they gather this week in Orlando. They, along with Bishop Ken Carter, are our connectional presence in the midst of this tragedy. We pray that God will work through them to be a source of Christ’s witness, reconciliation, and healing to the brokenness of an entire community.
As the people called United Methodist, let us not lose heart, but redouble our commitment and efforts to fulfill God’s vision of the Beloved Community throughout the world. As we combat evil, let us not let evil fill our hearts. As we struggle to end violence, let us not let violence become our way of life. As we battle terrorism, let us not become terrorists in the process. As we seek to be vigilant, let us not let fear curtail our hospitality. As we pray for peace, let it begin within our own spirits.
In the peace of the Lord,
Bishop Bruce R. Ough
President, United Methodist Council of Bishops