Responding to a National Tragedy

Dear Forest Hills family and friends,

What began as a week of vacation for my family ended as a week of tragedy for our nation.

Our hearts are broken. We are sad, angry, hurting, confused, and maybe even a little afraid.

As a community of faith, how are we to respond to the shootings that took place in three different cities this week leaving seven people dead and even more injured? What can we do as individuals to make a difference in our community?

As believers, we look to the life of Christ.

As Christ stood with those who were marginalized and oppressed in his day, we are called to stand with those who are marginalized, singled out or profiled in our society today.

As Christ taught his disciples to love their enemies, we are called to love ours. It isn’t easy.

Christ often withdrew from the noise and crowds to pray. We should too. Prayer sustains our spiritual life and walk with Christ.

As Christ rejected Peter's use of the sword and opposed all forms of violence, we should advocate for laws that can potentially reduce gun violence. 

As Christ gleaned wisdom from the Scriptures, we should dig deeply into God’s word for wisdom and guidance.

As Christ forgave those who would ultimately end his life on earth, we too are called to live beyond hate and anger and find forgiveness.

Just as Christ confronted unjust economic systems of his day, we should ask ourselves how our lifestyles may contribute to growing economic inequality in America today.

As Christ healed those who were broken and hurting, we are called to be healers and reconcilers.

As Christ taught his disciples to love their neighbors, we can be better neighbors.

We can choose to ignore the problems in our society today or we can do the difficult work of getting involved to make things better. We can keep silent or we can speak up. We can be more careful with our words. We can choose to blame others and point fingers or we can get involved in the difficult work of reconciliation.

We can confront acts of racism in our daily lives. We can speak words of encouragement and hope. We can allow anger into our hearts or we can embrace forgiveness. We can become more involved in our community. We can listen.

We can worship together. What greater hope for a fractured and divided world than to see the Church united?

We can choose to live in fear or to love fearlessly.

As believers, we long in our heart of hearts for a greater vision for humanity. But we are also called to live into this vision.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,’See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’”

(Revelation 21:3-4)

Tomorrow at Forest Hills, we will remember the tragedies that took place in our nation this week and we will pray for those directly impacted in both worship services.

In Christ’s love and service,

Neil Westbrook, Senior Pastor