This past Sunday was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day weekend is usually a time to give thanks for those who have died fighting for our country. It is also a time to give thanks that winter is behind, and summer is ahead.
Instead, like much our nation, I was in shock over an apparent attack upon an elementary school on Tuesday, May 24. The attack occurred in Uvalde, TX, a small town where my wife’s college roommate grew up. Nineteen children and two teachers were murdered and others wounded.
This past Sunday I preached on the assigned readings from the revised common lectionary including one about a child possessed by a spirit. As I prepared the sermon, I couldn’t help but think of the horror of the attack upon an elementary school and the poor response at the time and afterwards.
The more I thought about it the more I wondered. I have always known that there is evil in the world. It’s clear whether you are in church or not. Evil is present whenever children are trafficked to pleasure others or when children are abused by their own parents. Evil is present and clearly on display in Ukraine, with multiple war crimes against humanity.
Just as there is good, there is also evil. I preach on the good. I preach that God loves you so much that God send his only Son and that Jesus loves you so much that he talked and laughed and healed and ultimately went to and died upon the cross and rose again! I preach that the disciples grieved his loss, even while denying him, and the women visited his grave, but that Jesus rose again from the dead! I preach hope while praying against evil.
This past Sunday I could not help but wonder if the shooters in Uvalde (and Buffalo, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland …) were not also possessed like the young person in the reading assigned for the day. Possession is not an excuse for doing evil. It is instead an attempt at understanding the presence of evil in the world.
I cannot fathom what inspires a person to do such evil as attacking a school, grocery store, theater, worksite, hospital, party, office building, or any of the other places that have been attacked.
I cannot understand how people can read or hear threatening statements made before such attacks and not report them. Lives could have been saved. Lives. I believe that not reporting threats is negligent, obstructive, and costs lives.
I cannot understand the evil that attacks people and I cannot come up with how to prevent this in the future. Simple answers and empty promises are not working. I am not writing this to advocate doing this or that, but simply to stop and really think through the possibilities, including the ones with which you are not comfortable. Lives hang in the balance.
Pastor, St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall. Chaplain, Fairbanks PD and Steese FD. Insight is sponsored by TVCC.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on June 3,, 2022
Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting