August 6, 2019
Among recurring lessons accompanying the horrific news of mass shootings is this: the common bonds of our national identity are fracturing. We are losing the sense of common cause that binds us together, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Perpetrators may be described as agitated loners, but they are also harbingers of a larger malaise in our land. The increasing frequency of these acts of terror coupled with white supremacist ideology and massive capacity weaponry sounds the alarm that each of us has a role to play in how our common life shall proceed.
Up and down the ladders of privilege and power it matters how we speak of one another; if our words and actions reveal a commitment to either building or sundering community. This is as true in each of our houses as it is in the White House. All of us share responsibility for the health and vigor of our national character in providing a safe and wholesome environment for every person and family in our land. The emanations from the El Paso manifesto should send a chill down our spines, insisting violence is the solution to solving white tribalist anxieties.
Our nation’s original sin of racism remains the go-to weapon-of-choice for those bent on fear-mongering. And fear remains our great enemy; it lies behind every sort of tribalist anxiety. Our scriptures lay down the gauntlet on this by proclaiming, “Perfect love casts out all fear!” Ah yes, love of God above all things, and love of neighbor as ourselves remains our core value at Christ Church–the perfect-seeming antidote to the tenor of our moment, a resilient bulwark in the face of many adversities, and a call for us to grow into the people God intended in the first place.
Out of loving concern for those who have died and those who grieve we offer humble, earnest prayers of support. We yearn for their eventual healing. “Holy God, bless these innocent victims.”
But let’s be very clear that prayer is just a beginning. Prayer also serves as a call to rejoin the ranks of those who are seeking to build wholesome community for all of God’s offspring, while standing against tribalist racism of every sort, every sort of fear-mongering of the dreaded “other.” In this, I hope we stand hand in hand, our work of love to the benefit of the common good.
As always, I persist in gratitude for the community of Christ Church. I find strength in our common bond to love well while standing against the forces that seek to divide and demean and deny human dignity. Joining our hands, hearts and voices amplifies our individual intentions. May God bless us in this continuing endeavor.
The Reverend Stephen P. Bauman, PhD
Christ Church / 524 Park Ave / new York, New York 10065