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Notes from the Lay Leader

From Romans 15 (the Message): Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” … (Jesus) didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles but waded right in and helped out.

I intended to write this month about the Simplified Accountable Structure that Pastor Jeremy and others are investigating as a possible way to restructure and streamline our church administration. But then came Buffalo.

In New York, a recent high school graduate armed himself, wrote a “manifesto” that is hundreds of pages long, and traveled hundreds of miles to carry out an operation to reshape the world the way he thinks it should be. From what I’ve learned, he and others are concerned about “replacement theory,” that a deliberate effort is being made to somehow get rid of white males and replace them with people of color. He was operating from a position of hate.

As Christians, we cannot allow these actions and these views to go unchallenged. Jesus too traveled his world trying to change things. But he emphasized love, acceptance, and belonging. As Christians, we are to love one another, help one another, serve one another. It’s difficult to do that with people who are different from us, as I believe the young gunman IS different from us as much as the Buffalo grocery shoppers may be different from us.

People will quote the Second Amendment to the Constitution as justification for the young man being able to do what he did. I’d like to observe that the victims should have had the protection of the First Amendment, which gives us all the right to assemble peaceably, whether at a school, a church, a store, or a neighborhood.

I have a friend who has made a career out of traveling the world to help children and families who are fleeing war. She has worked with refugees from Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and other places, emphasizing helping children. When she travels overseas and meets people who have fled from incredibly horrific conditions, she ALWAYS meets someone who asks her how she can live in the United States, “where somebody is always ready to shoot you.”

We don’t have to take away everybody’s guns (there are more guns than people in the US) to work for peace and justice. Even though the young man wore camouflage clothing and a helmet, he was not part of a “well-regulated militia.”

Jesus called for a “well-regulated” movement as well. We are to love, accept, and serve others, no matter their color, their gender, their native language, their political opinions, their beliefs. As our Bishop wrote recently, “It takes some faith and courage to continue to believe in the power of love. Be that person of faith, courage, hope, creativity, and love.”

- Barbara Ross

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