In the Aftermath of All that Was

In the Aftermath of All that Was

On December 21st, as most of you know, our community was deeply shaken when a gunman began a shooting spree in the the community of Lower Reese and killed three people, and shot three State Policemen before being killed by the police.  It was an event which we know happens in the world, but one of those things which none of us would ever consider as being able to happen here.  In truth such terrible things are what no one ever imagines coming to them - but in truth - evil does again and again rise up in the world and inflict death and destruction upon all people at some time or another. 

The only difference for us was that this wasn't a tragic event happening somewhere else - these murders happened to our neighbors and to people we knew.  It shouldn't have happened, and there is nothing to be said to explain away or make any of it make sense.  Because it simply doesn't make sense.  We reach out in prayer to those who lost friends and family members, we will continue to try and hold the community of Lower Reese and the Juniata Valley Gospel Church in our hearts - but nothing will make this terrible event go away.  It has been done, and we can only mourn for those who have been tragically lost.

That being said, though it is good and right for us to pray - sometimes we may feel (in all honesty I sometimes feel) that there has to be something more that we can do.  I am not content with simply letting evil run rampant and waiting for the next time that someone goes over the edge and kills an murders in an attempt to satisfy their own fears, shortcomings, or insanities.  I know how to respond when death comes - but what can I do in the meantime? 

I think we can actively oppose and stand up in the face of evil and destruction.  I believe that we are Christians who carry the light of Christ with us - and are called to love and serve this world and to reach out in mercy and goodness to those who are caught in the darkness.  I believe that there is a lot we can do - because Jesus Christ is with us. I am simply not content with waiting for something else terrible to happen - I want to today and now fight back against evil, death and destruction.

How do we do that?  Honestly, I am still working on the answer but I wanted to share with you what I have so far.  It is so very simple that I hope that you won't slough it off as sounding naive and simplistic.  The simple thing that we can do is oppose and fight evil - with good. 

I told you it sounded too simple.

But think about this.  There are so many people who are struggling in this world, who are hurting.  There are so many people who life and circumstance have made hard and hard hearted.  Don't assume that this means just the under privileged, the poor, those who have little in this world.  Some of the world's most privileged are broken and scarred by living in this world.  The truth is that people are hurting, and to try and stop the pain they can quite often lash out (in varying degrees of severity) at others in this world.  This lashing out is often done in fear, anger, and hate - and simply brings about more evil, destruction, and pain in the world.

So my proposition is this.  In a world where so many are hurting, where bad things happen, where sometimes people simply make bad and terrible choices that cause others to suffer.  How about we devote ourselves to being people who spread goodness and love instead of pain and suffering. 

Again I can hear you thinking of my Polyanna-ish ideas or you might consider that I am sitting here with "Kum-Bay-Yah" playing in the background.  But I promise you that I am not.  I am thinking that we have in our grasp the ability to fundamentally change,influence, and altar the way the world operates.  We can do that simply by trying to be people who love each other first, who care and reach out in justice and mercy, who help and give instead of trying to get, grab, and take all that we can. 

Call me crazy but I think that is what our Lord Jesus was talking about when he said things like "Blessed are the peacemakers", "Love your enemy", "Love your Neighbor as Yourself".  You know all that hippie, peace, love, Acquarius stuff that Jesus kept talking about.  You might think that after a while he was serious about that stuff - well he was.

Our Lord was helping us to see that there was a better way.  He shows us that life can be about loving and caring for others and giving yourself, skills, talents and abilities away for the sake of others.  Jesus calls us to do this radical thing of loving, caring and giving - of following him that took nothing but gave everything.  Jesus says you want to know what to do against the darkness - then reach out in love and mercy and you will begin to change things.

So what I am saying is this.  How about we try and help someone today?  How about we be kind and helpful and gentle to those people around us?  How about we simply try and step out of the usual race of getting things done, of doing our jobs, of keeping our nose to the grindstone - and for (if only one moment) do something in love for someone?

It doesn't have to be that you quit your job and move to Africa to take care of lepers (today).  It doesn't have to start with something so big that we automatically kick to that part of our mind that says "I could never do that".  How about today, and tomorrow, and the next day you simply try and do something in love for someone else.  Maybe you give something to the food bank, maybe you call a friend of a family member and let them know how much they mean to you, maybe you wish someone a good day, or reach out to someone who is hurting.  We don't have to start with moving mountains.  We can - in little and small acts of love and kindness reach out to and let people know that someone cares about them. 

The thing is, if you do that today and tomorrow and the next day.  And I do that, and we all do it.  Well, pretty soon we may have something going.  We might have a movement.  A movement of love, mercy and goodness that can reach out to and love people in this world.  But you know what?  Forget that.  How about today, instead of the regular patterns of walking and waddling through the day to day as we always do.  Make a committment to be kind and good and loving to someone.  It will be good for you.  I promise that you will get something out of it.  You will like it so much, that you may just do it tomorrow, and the next day. 

Yes it might be small, but it is something.  Yes it is only a beginning.  But it turns us in the direction that we should be going of beginning down (or in many of your cases continuing down) the path of making a difference in this world for the good. 

Simple and easy, and my or your reaching out to someone in love won't change the world - today.  But it will drop a pebble in that pond of life.  The ripples from that might begin to move the water, and we all drop enough into the pond - pretty soon we get the waves going.

So folks - you want to know what to do?  Love somebody, help somebody, do something.  Those acts of grace and mercy can build up.  We also know that they might just do more than we can ever imagine, because those acts of grace and mercy - are the seeds of love which we are scattering into the lives of people in this world.  We never know what God will do with those little seeds.  God might just take that little act of love, and use it to bring forth life in a person - turning them to him and helping them to then become a blessing to others.

So go do and go love.  When you go - Christ is with you.  That may make LITERALLY all the difference in the world and in the lives that you are able to touch.

Hope that is helpful - God Bless And Keep You

Pastor Mike

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