pastoral words

27 . October . 2012

careful, helpful words from david bisgrove:

Dear Friends,
 
By now you have heard of the terrible tragedy that occurred on Thursday night on the UWS.  Like you, Alice and I have wrestled with a range of emotions since we learned what happened, and our hearts are broken for the parents of the murdered children. I am writing this note to help us collectively process and support one another in light of what has happened in our neighborhood.  In caring for one another and dealing with our own shock and grief, there are several ways in which we can respond as a Christian community:
 
We can pray (Eph. 6:18).  At times like this where words fail me, I rely on the most honest definition of prayer I know, which is laying our helplessness before God.  Pray for the parents and extended family. Pray also for those in the school community and surrounding neighborhood who are dealing with the shock and grief of this tragedy.  Pray against the evil that led to this tragedy, that God would protect our community from fear and despair in our response to such evil. 
 
We can grieve.  Our grief reminds us that we ‘wrestle not against flesh and blood’ (Eph. 6:12).  It allows us to identify with our suffering neighbors who have lost so much.  We mourn with those who mourn (Romans 15:15) in order to, in some small way, enter into their pain.
 
We can hope.  There is always a danger that grief can turn into despair and paralyzing fear.  The antidote for that is the hope of the resurrection. We must remind ourselves in our conversations with one another that ‘death has been swallowed up in victory’ (I Cor. 15:54).  And as we remind one another of the reality that God will one day wipe away every tear, we can help our neighbors with the message of hope.  
 
In other words, we can love.  The hope of the resurrection means our ‘labor is not in vain’ (I Cor 15:58).  This doesn’t mean that we have all the answers, or that we understand what happened that night.  But the hope that we have in the resurrection that we will live eternally in the presence of God allows the Body of Christ to live out the powerful and simple phrase of Jesus – ‘love your neighbor’ (Mark 12:31).   So comfort, listen to, weep with, share meals and other kindnesses, and offer hope to – your friends and neighbors – as together we seek to bind up our collective wounds in the healing love of Christ Jesus.
 
With shared grief,
 
David

West Side Congregation | Redeemer Presbyterian Church

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