The horror of buffalo and now the tragedy in Uvalde.
They sit like a gut-wrenching rock in my stomach trying to work their way out of my system. Both are tragedies that should be beyond one’s imagination. Sadly they are our reality.
No doubt your Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter feeds are blowing up with reasons why and solutions for what we are facing.
Complex Problems Require Complex Solutions
There are no simple solutions to entrenched and complex problems of this nature. Most of the offerings on social media fit into the simple-solutions category. Such solutions are an oversimplification and politicization of this deeply-rooted problem.
This post may well fit into that category. I will let you be the judge. At the very least, it is a pastoral reflection on how to respond to these repeatedly occurring cultural nightmares.
Nightmares that are now our reality.
These are realities into which we need to pray, preach, and practice. Prayer is always the place to start; preaching must follow our prayers. Practice should follow preaching.
Too often, these three essential components of ministry aren’t connected. Instead, they are separate from one another. When these three are divided, we lack the resources to guide in life-giving ways effectively.
N.T. Wright provides insight into the necessity of uniting prayer and pragmatic solutions:
“God’s work in the world is never merely pragmatic. It isn’t simply “We can organize a program to go and do this.” If you think we can do God’s work like that, read the lives of people like William Wilberforce and think again. You can’t. You need prayer, you need the sacraments, you need that patient faithfulness—because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and the world rulers of this present darkness.”-N.T. Wright
Prayer, Preaching, Practice Defined
By Prayer, I mean conversation and communion with God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
I use the term Preaching to mean communication and dialogue with others.
By Practice, I mean one’s commitment to bring good to the world. One’s behavior or real-time action in the world.
Four Primary Areas of Focus
As I stated earlier, the problems we are facing are deeply rooted and have systemic and structural tentacles. Therefore, we need a multi-layered approach. I will be focusing on four areas that I believe will serve us well.
First, Peace. Yes, we need to consider intentionally cultivating peace in a world rife with division. Too often, it’s the Christian voices attacking and demonizing those who disagree with us. We can cultivate peace.
Secondly, Pro-Active Dads. Sadly, many of our boys aren’t becoming men. Doing so requires dads. Dads who are proactive and involved. Churches and communities need to be places where Dads can develop the necessary tools to parent in today’s complexities.
Properly Aligned Liberties and Loves
Third, Properly-Aligning Loves. This needs to happen on an individual and institutional level. The church is more tribal and nationalistic than I ever recall. This is idolatry. It must be called out and our loves must be realigned. Jesus gets after this when he is asked to opinion on the greatest commandment. We will look to Him for help here!
Finally, Policy Advocacy and Change. It’s time to evaluate the policies that led us here and what’s required in order to help us cultivate a culture of love and care for all of its citizens. This is another area of focus I will explore with other Christian voices. Voices with more background and knowledge than my own.
Pastor Joe LaGuardia will provide a way forward. I encourage you to follow his work here, https://joelaguardia.wordpress.com/peacemaking/end-gun-violence/. Joe is a friend. His story is convicting and his research related to gun violence in America is compelling.
More to come!
Pray, Preach, Practice.
All Three – like never before!