Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
May 25th, 2022
“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18
“Woe to those who plan iniquity,to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out, because it is in their power to do it.”
The above are the faces of those who will never be in 5th grade. Their lives were cut short with no warning, and through no fault of their own. Dear Jesus, please remember them and restore them when you come in glory.
Meanwhile, we’ve been going through our week, pretty normally probably, when, once again, our hearts were impacted and our minds shocked with the tragic news that there has been another school shooting, this time in Texas, in which over 20 people died. 4th graders! Innocents! Getting ready to wrap-up the school year soon, and then horror and devastation decimate this small-town community. I tell you, I’m sick to my stomach about it!
I send up a prayer for those devastated families, and the community at large. While this shooting, as others have, will fade into the background of the national consciousness, a wound has been opened that will not be resolved for years, decades, in that small Texas town of Uvaldi. Lord: grant them consolation! Wrap your arms around this community going through unimaginable loss. And this, in addition to two more hate-fueled shootings last week, at the grocery store in Buffalo, and the Taiwanese congregation in South County here. Lord Jesus…
With hardly any delay, people start pointing fingers at who’s to blame. While seeking causes is of course useful in the sense of trying to prevent future disasters of this kind, too often fault-finding and political finger-pointing seem to become an end in-and-of themselves.
Obviously, the deranged shooter is to blame: to harbor homicidal thoughts and act on them rather than pre-emptively turning himself in for help or merely taking his own life, is unthinkable and evil beyond words. But then, who else is to blame as well? The family, for not ‘blowing the whistle’ on him to authorities? For letting him have access to a military style weapon in a household setting? The school? For not harboring bullying or not seeing warning signs and acting? Politicians? For being on the ‘wrong side’ of the gun debate? Violent video games? The Internet? Several or all of the above?
I’m afraid those who look for merely societal reasons for atrocities like this find themselves metaphorically hitting their heads on the glass ceiling of the fishtank: The mental, emotional, and spiritual disease that is at the root of all the contributing factors listed above is sin. Sin, in its thousands of manifestations, is the cause of all human strife, turmoil, and struggling. We will never solve the problems of society unless we can properly diagnose what is its source. And the majority of those in power have willingly turned a blind eye to it.
Yet… many of us (Christians included) also make a friend of sin: get comfortable with it, let it into our households and into our minds. Cobble together a way of life that includes some light and some darkness. We rationalize. We justify. We forget that the author of these “fun” or “harmless” sins, is also the inspirer of depraved homicidal intent. Of Torture. Of Warfare. Of Genocide and rape, the list goes on. I tell you, I want no part of it! I want to hate sin in every shade of its existence. Because, to accept violent movies or video games is to say that beholding it, entertaining it in the abstract is somehow fundamentally different than endorsing it in reality.
Many people, from social media users to politicians, are and will be voicing both their heartbreak and outrage (probably more tipped on the latter). But any of the proposed solutions that exist on merely a societal level will be merely putting a band-aid on the situation.
We need repentance. We need revival. We need loving Christian communities who embrace and hold up people who feel excluded, bullied, & alienated. We need a worldview of loving service to all children of God. Yet will this be publicly called for? I think it’s more likely that airport-style security will be called for at schools instead. And perhaps arming teachers (I shudder).
Many lose their faith in a future Kingdom of peace and glory because the malaise of societal murkiness encloses them. But this is when we need to cry out the most: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” This is why we need a Judgment day: for the innocents to be affirmed & rewarded (Daniel 7:22), and for the guilty to be punished (Revelation 20:14-15). Too often in this world the opposite happens, and to give up hope in the tables being righted is, in my view, to give up to utter despair in the grandest sense.
Our daily yearning should be “come quickly, Lord Jesus”, and our task, in the meantime, is to band together, to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn” as Paul says in Romans 12:15. To invite people to the community of God and the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9, 22:17).
I… can’t believe people get comfortable in this wretched world. As nice a bubble as we can make for ourselves, its still in the midst of the stenchy quagmire from which we need rescue.
Let us never (and I write this with tears in my eyes) lose hope that Jesus will come to save, that God has a different, a better reality for us, in which “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Hug your loved ones a little tighter this week. May God bless and keep you until we next meet.
Pr. Mark Tatum