Today's Top Stories:
Sutherland Springs and more Gun violence
Once again, we are faced with gun violence in our Country. Like you, my heart goes out to the innocent people killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The news of these mass shootings is painfully horrific every time it happens. We pray for the families of the 26 children and adults killed ruthlessly by a man with a gun. We pray for the congregation of First Baptist. We pray for the family of the gunman, and for what must have been his tortured soul. Prayer is a good beginning. But let us be moved to do – what prayer strengthens us to do. Let us not only pray, but act in courageous, faithful and smart ways to work for an end to gun violence, even if people think such a goal may be wishful thinking. Let us take our grief and anger, our hopes and questions to our Legislators and seek changes to rules and regulations, to thoughtful preventative measures for the good of all including those who suffer mental illnesses of various sorts.
As long as our nation (and world) continues to believe the false narrative that superior violence, especially gun violence as it is celebrated and applauded in movies, in trash-talk, in endless versions of point-and-shoot-people video games is the solution to our problems and “wins the day” we will continue to experience the truth that violence breeds more violence. This we learned from Jesus. We also learned from him that only love transforms the human heart.
Killing people with guns is more than simply a mental illness issue. It’s a “quick fix” cultural mind-set that has forgotten people are made in the image of God, and are precious. It’s a social issue, a breakdown of community where brutality has been allowed to replace civility, both in word and deed. But Jesus has chosen you and grafted you into his life through the gospel (“I am the vine, you are the branches”) so that through him we may bear the fruit of his love and goodness to the whole world. We are empowered by him to offer, as he did, an alternative vision for the world: A vision that loves the neighbor as Jesus does, and acts in the neighbor’s interest. I like what Martin Luther says in his The Freedom of the Christian: (1520) “ God has given me in Christ all the riches of righteousness and salvation, so that from now one I need nothing except faith. Why should I not therefore freely, with all my heart, do all tings pleasing to God, who has overwhelmed me with irresistible riches? I will give myself as a Christ to my neighbor and do nothing in this life except what is necessary, profitable, and salutary for my neighbor”
God of New life; Stir up in us the gift of your love. May those who have lost loved ones in Sutherland Springs be comforted by your love, and be granted strength to face their grave losses. Stir up in us the will to act in the best interest of our neighbor.
Through your Son, our brother and Lord, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
East Jerusalem Hospital Advocacy Update
The Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem has faced periodic financial challenges due to lack of payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the treatment of patients referred to the hospital by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. To learn more about the background of the issues facing this Lutheran World Federation (LWF) run hospital see this Peace Not Walls blog.Earlier this year, the situation reached a critical level when the hospital had to turn patients away because it was running out of vital medication to treat those who were critically ill. While the PA at that time made promises to resolve the situation, in effect it has failed to do so. For further details see the latest LWF Advocacy Update.
Having been alerted to this crisis situation, on October 13 ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote a letter to the PLO Ambassador in Washington, Dr. Husam Zomlot, appealing to him to bring the situation “to an immediate, positive conclusion.” You can read her letter here.
Contact your elected officials today at the ELCA Action Center, and ask them to convey these concerns to Ambassador Zomlot as well.
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