I was feeling good that I wrote most of my newsletter on Saturday and that I wouldn’t have to rush on Monday to get it written. I woke up this morning (Monday) and realized that what I had written was no longer the message that needed to be shared. The first that I heard about the Las Vegas shootings came in an e-mail from one of our Superintendents. I hurried to read some news reports to get more information on what happened. I had a feeling of numbness as I looked at all of the information and realized the magnitude of destruction that one person inflicted upon so many people. 

Almost immediately I had flash-backs to my feelings on 9-11. That over-whelming feeling of helplessness in being unable to stop a terrible injustice, and sorrow for all those involved. It is hard dealing with natural disasters like hurricanes, but it seems even harder to me to deal with disasters where people intentionally planned to kill and injure other people. 

This kind of violence has a ripple effect that touches more lives than just those injured or killed. I don’t even know how to calculate how many lives this includes. I just know that there has been a tremendous lost for our country and our world. 

How can we respond to this kind of violence? The only answer that I can come up with is to be kind, and to love others, every chance that we can. Every day each of us comes into contact with many other people. I’m encouraging us to go to extraordinary lengths to share kindness and love in a Christ-like way! This needs to be reflected in our words, actions, and thoughts. Love also has a way of having ripple effects. 

It is not enough for us to usually be kind and loving. Getting a B+ on our efforts is not going to change our world. We need to work hard to be loving and kind all of the time. As I type this statement I’m already anticipating people saying that this is an unreasonable expectation. It doesn’t take much imagination to hear the reasons that people give as to why it is reasonable to not be loving and kind at certain moments in our lives. Things like being: tired; stressed; frustrated; hurt; and sick. With just a few more minutes of thinking I’m sure that we can make this list much longer! My thought is that these are more excuses than they are reasons. I just don’t see Jesus giving us loop-holes on being kind and loving. 

I long to be able to say that the church has mastered being kind and loving. The truth is, quite often we do really well. Especially when disasters are happening in the lives of people. In my opinion, that is when the church shines! Our bigger struggle is when we are in “normal” times. We have a way of fighting and disregarding the feelings of those who believe differently from us. We have to step up and find a way to see past our differences. As a church, it’s possible for us to become a “no judging zone”. The church needs to lead the way in demonstrating what it is like to be kind and loving all the time, and not just most of the time. 

Hatred and violence might always be with us, but it is our job as Christians to try to eliminate it. I keep thinking that we are only one decision away from world peace. The problem is that each of us in the world needs to make the decision to live peacefully. I’m raising my hand—I’m in. How about you? How many people can we get to join us? As part of the movement I’m re-committing myself to be kind and loving all the time. I can’t guarantee that I will succeed, but I’m willing to try. Will you walk with me on this? It’s time for us to change our country and our world, and we can’t do it alone. Together—with God’s power and help—peace becomes possible. 

Your brother on the peace path, Mark 

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