Eleven innocent people gunned down in their place of worship. No telling how many others traumatize by the experience. The news of the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg is devastating - perhaps even more so because of the juxtaposition of the mingling of the stories of this day - no, this weekend.
Yesterday, the news of the report of the United Methodist Judicial Council meetings hit the Methodist press. My phone rang all morning, with pings and rings and buzzes.
Today we celebrated the life of Arthur Weldon Lotspeich. The afternoon was filled with laughter, humility, and grace upon grace upon grace. Dr. Clifton Howard offered us a blessing that reminded us of God's gift of love. The sanctuary swelled with the presence of Christ! As a United Methodist pastor, I've had the most exquisite blessing of knowing some of The Church's greatest saints. St. Barnabas has been blessed with an abundance of them.
Tomorrow we celebrate 60 years of ministry for Dr. Luther Henry. Luther was my first District Superintendent. He walked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. We will hear his story of being under surveillance during the 1960s, and near-arrest simply because he changed his routine. What Luther says in one of the videos we made of him is that he has learned this, "In the end, love always wins." Love. Always. Wins.
How do we stop the hate? How do we put an end to violence? In the end, it is love that wins! I believe that is what Jesus the Christ staked his whole life on - love wins. Love wins over the grave. Love wins over hate. Love wins over our hearts and our minds. But wow! "Love wins" is a profoundly difficult thing to live out!
Please hear me: I am not saying that bringing a shooter to justice is warm and fuzzy. I am saying that if we want to change the hate and violence of our society and our world, we are going to have to be more loving people, including the way we speak to one another and the way we speak of one another. Ultimately love triumphs over hate.
I am not sure how I will reach out to the people at the Tree of Life Synagogue. I know I must. Reaching out is the Christ-like thing to do. I think reaching out in love means I have to include those "other" Methodists too... Love. Always. Wins.