Monday, June 20, 2016

Empire falls

Sitting in our small storefront church I could see the people making their way to the popular restaurant at the end of our block. There were many more people celebrating Father's day with brunch than church. Too few were gathered to worship and reflect on Colossians 1:15-20 on this Sunday one week after the Orlando tragedy. In one horrific week Orlando had seen the murder of popular singer, an alligator attack at a family entertainment center, and then the massacre at a gay nightclub. It was a sad week in the Florida city known for family fun. What could be said? The President made his now too common somber remarks and told us we must do better to restrict gun violence. One of the presumptive presidential candidates sounded almost gleeful tweeting an I told you so message. Churches, spiritual families, struggled to respond. What makes America great? Our pastor had been in New York City during the week.  A great city, she reminded us of all the sights she took in on a trip with her daughters and her mom. The play, Hamilton, and the Today show and the Statue of Liberty and the fly over of Yankee Stadium - greatness symbolized at the center of all that is important. But, there was nothing to say in response to our week of sorrow. Late night comics were muted and important authors and actors reached for meaningful words. The great corporations advertised on the billboards of Times Square went on making money. Wall Street sold stocks for our retirement accounts and charted moment by moment how they were doing. One presidential candidate has made this election about making America great again. What does that mean? More powerful? Richer? More dominant worldwide? More weapons to make us safe? The answer, our pastor suggested, was not found in the symbols of Empire in the Empire City. It was found in some of responses to suffering and tragedy. Like the life saving labors of first responders and medical personnel working selflessly to help others. Like the countless services of candlelight making a difference in the dark. Like the gifts of money and things offered from hearts touched by some else's tragedy. Like the prayers in gatherings like ours for mercy and grace, for hope. Like the words of Colossians 1 we read that morning... From beginning to end he is there, towering far above everything, everyone....all the dislocated pieces of the universe-people and things, animals and atoms-get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death... (The Message). It's a counter culture song of self giving love. How do we sing it?

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