Bishop Webb reflects on recent shootings
Editor’s note: On July 10, 2016 Bishop Mark J. Webb shared the following reflection about the recent shooting deaths in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ
My grandfather died on July 4th. Yesterday I participated in the celebration of his life. He lived 97 years and today, July 10, he and my grandmother would have celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary. My grandfather taught me much and he was a man who lived the words of Micah 6.8: “He has told you what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
As I experienced these last few days with my grandmother and family, my thoughts and prayers have been with the horrific events of the past week. The shooting deaths of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Philando Castile of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Dallas police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa remind us again of the senseless violence that surrounds us and the brokenness of systems, but more importantly, the brokenness of our relationships with one another.
As we pray for the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, we are reminded that God has called the Church to be light in the midst of darkness, to be salt that seasons the world. We must find ways to increase our ministry of justice. How will we continue to not only speak against, but model the kind of lives that reject racism within our world? How do we support the ones who have offered their lives to protect us, while responsibly speaking out and working for necessary changes within our criminal justice system? How do we within the church show the world around us how to love one another as we engage in dialogue about solutions for the desperation within our world?
My prayer is that I will follow the example of my grandfather and seek justice for all who surround me and that God will show me the blinders I sometimes wear that prevent me from being a justice seeker and worker. I pray that I will love kindness, especially in the ways in which I interact, listen to and speak with those around me. I pray that I will walk humbly, recognizing I don’t have the answer to the brokenness of our world, but trust that the good news of Jesus Christ is enough.
As the church, may we have confidence in the work of the Gospel message and may we boldly offer that message to the world. I am reminded of words we find in paragraph 121 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church: “Whenever United Methodism has had a clear sense of mission, God has used our church to save persons, heal relationships, transform social structures, and spread scriptural holiness, thereby changing the world.” May we live our mission together, as we offer Jesus to the world!
Let us not continue to model the broken ways of our societies within the church, but may we live a different way and offer that different way to those around us, as the truth of Christ changes lives, strengthens individuals and families and offers the promise of transformation.
“He has told you what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
--Bishop Mark J. Webb