By Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv.
Within the last 48 hours of writing this article, two more mass shootings in our beloved United States have been in the news. The massacre in El Paso just happened Saturday morning. Saturday evening, I re-wrote my sermon for the next morning only to wake up to yet another mass murder which happened in Dayton, Ohio. The killing is happening faster than pastors can write and rewrite. This behavior isn’t reflective of a country that is “united.”
The lectionary text for that Sunday’s sermon was Colossians 3:1-11 and in it Apostle Paul shares with us the need to put aside choices that are made which are not of “God.” We are instructed to not choose and turn away from “whatever is in us which is earthly: impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed.” Our dear friend Paul left out a few behaviors. Paul left out the sins of racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and sexism to name a few.
Paul shares with us that we must become “new” beings: “In the new being, there is no longer male and female, Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but love!” (revised)
I am grateful that we can now express our belief in God without circumcision. I never quite understood why that got started as a religious requirement anyway! But I am more grateful that God believes that we have the ability to love each other as equals, celebrate our differences instead of using our uniqueness to continue killing one another.
Righteous anger over these mass murders must lead to action. Yes we prayed on Sunday morning, but prayers without actions are just words. Mother Theresa often wrote about prayer. I will share with you some of her quotes: “Prayer in action is love, love in action is service.” And another: “I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that God will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”
The day after the El Paso massacre, the news reports spoke about moms from all around the United States gathering together for a protest in Washington, D.C. It’s time to listen to our moms. The church should listen to our moms as well!
Demand change. Protest. Vote.
Rev. Patrick Rogers, MDiv. – Community Activist and Senior Pastor at United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale.