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Pastoral Missive about the Oxford Shooting

Dear friends—

Stephen Melkisethian Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I imagine that many of you are struggling with the state of our world…the Oxford shooting, the new variant, the increasing darkness of winter…I know that I am.  This past week has been particularly hard.  It is difficult to stay hopeful in the midst of so much uncertainty and continuing bad news.  And many of you are struggling with personal issues of compromised health or caregiving for loved ones. 

Our hearts break anytime we hear of a school shooting.  One of our primary responsibilities is to keep ALL children and youth safe and to help them attain a good education.  School shootings, anywhere at any time, are beyond tragic.  And at the same time (because we are only human), it is even more distressing when it happens close to home.  We can’t help but feel it more deeply…it shatters our sense of safety and it is easy to give into fear and anxiety.  It is even more terrifying to have our local schools closed because of potential threats. 

I don’t want to minimize our struggle.  This is not a time for false hope or trite platitudes.  What we are facing is hard.  Really hard.  And trying to gloss over that fact would not only ring hollow, I believe wouldn’t be a faithful stance.  On Sunday, I mentioned Dr. King’s 1968 quote: We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.  We can be hopeless and hopeful at the same time.  We can be fearful and brave in the same moment.  We can grieve deeply and still be joyful.  We are never just one thing…to be fully human is to be multidimensional and at times, seemingly contradictory.

I cannot write the perfect words to make this difficult time better.  But I want to remind you that you are loved by your God and your community.  And you are not alone.  We are called into community for exactly moments like these.  It is okay to not to be okay right now…let God know.  Rage, cry, curse, go for a walk, hug a loved one or a beloved pet.  But don’t run from your humanity or from your God. 

It is good to be God’s people in this place,

Deb

I am a wife, mother and pastor. I serve The Church of the Good Shepherd in Ann Arbor, MI, a vibrant, multi-racial, LBTGQ affirming congregation. I have learned many powerful lessons about Christian community from my church and because I care deeply about the wider progressive church tradition, I feel compelled to share the wisdom I have gleaned from this beautiful place. Thank you, Church of the Good Shepherd for being unapologetically You! I love going to work each and every day.

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