An excerpt from the statement of Rev. Thomas Bickerton, President of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, in response to the tragic mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas:
My “statement” today is quite simple: Let’s go on the offense. If you are a pastor, weave our theology of a lived-out faith into sermons that challenge people to convert their fears, angers, racist tendencies, and complicit behaviors into a mobilized witness of the power of God to do far more than we could ever dream of or imagine. If you are a lay person, determine today how you will take the faith you nurture each week in a pew to the streets, the places where you work, and the homes where you live. If you are a church body, don’t settle for just active shooter training. Determine that you will actively work to transform lives from violence to peace, elect officials that will not settle for inaction, and inject communities with the grace and love of Christ that will alter the course of our current behaviors.
Let’s go on the offense today and play whatever role we can to change the cycle of violence, end racism and other behaviors that treat people less than they were created to be, and create a narrative that will compel people to live a life with a heart of peace.
In his book, To Bless the Space Between Us, John O’Donahue writes, “Now is the time to hold faithful to your dream, to understand that this is an interim time full of awkward disconnection.” As a bishop of the church, I refuse to see this period of our lives as a permanent time of disarray. Instead, I choose to see this as an interim time, a time that will not remain as it is, a time that will not be the standard upon which we experience the life we have been blessed to live. As United Methodists we embrace a gospel and a mission that we state has the power to transform the world. The risk is that they will only be nice words that easily roll off our tongues just like every statement made after the latest act of violence. The risk is that we will see our current state as a permanent one, rather than as an interim time that we can, with the power of God in our midst, change.
The call today is for every United Methodist Christian to go on the offense, stating what we believe the power of God can do in our midst, opening ourselves to power of God at work within us, and doing whatever we can to alter the current course of behavior once and for all.
The journey continues…
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen