I want to first say thank you to the News Journal for this opportunity! What a privilege to share some thoughts with the amazing people of the 45177 zip code (and beyond)!
I have only lived here five months, but you have made me feel right at home. Thanks for your hospitality and generosity.
Well, let’s get to it!
This past week’s tragedy is just a rock in the pile of landslide of boulders that seems to be overwhelming us as a country. In the last two months we have seen natural disaster hit cities and towns, wild fires ravage communities, people kill for no apparent reason, and when one is given in the name of God we wonder how can that even be the same God.
So on Sunday evening as the alert came over my phone I was hit with rocks in the landslide as I saw 26 killed in a church in Texas … details to come. What would I do? How could I lead, preach, teach, pray? How would I protect my children? How could I be safe when others were not?
All questions that assaulted me without answers as fear started to take hold.
Maybe you too have the feeling of fear beginning, or continuing to take hold of you. Perhaps you are afraid of what is to come?
Will you be safe, should you buy a gun, can you trust your neighbor, can we simply hide away?
Jesus speaks into this fear. He says perfect love casts out all fear. His love!
So how do we feel his love? Through each other!
I heard a story in Las Vegas … the person said the gunman wanted to kill us, and destroy our hope — he only brought us together. That’s what Jesus does, amid heartache and pain. Jesus offers us another way.
We need to lean into him. That means we must remain present, we need to listen, and we need to remain open, not closed, to the people around us. Not giving in to the fear, but standing up and speaking.
As we begin a season of Thanksgiving, we can choose to love — even those we do not understand.
I pray as you begin to set aside your fear you will be the light for someone else. Please remember you matter to God and you matter to me.
Blessings and Grace!
Marie Smith is Pastor of Wilmington United Methodist Church.