A Call to Bear
Each Other’s Burdens
Pr. Randy Gehring wrote this article for “From the Pulpit” in the February 24, 2018, edition of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
At this writing, the country is reeling yet again in the wake of a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 innocent lives were taken for reasons we have yet to understand. Many more sustained injuries that will leave them scarred for life, on the outside and on the inside.
As scary as all of that is—for those who were there or who had loved ones involved and for those of us who watch from a distance and wonder if we’re safe, if our children our safe—the thing that causes me to shudder is that when these words are printed, we may be grieving all over again, given the rate at which these shootings are occurring now.
The words of the psalmist crying out in desperation form easily on our lips these days: How long, O Lord? How long before the suffering stops? How long before you intervene, God? Can’t you do something? Why won’t you do something?
I believe God is calling us to do something. All of us. Together.
The church I serve is Lutheran, and our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, teaches that God’s gifts of grace are given for my sake AND for the sake of my neighbor. Not only does God take definitive action to restore my relationship with God, but God also empowers me through forgiveness and healing to seek my neighbor’s good for the sake of justice for all.
Could it be that as sides are formed on street corners, in city squares, on social media, and in op-eds and on talk radio around the country, we are ignoring our neighbor’s cry for an end to suffering? Could it be that our impassioned protests regardless of platform have more to do with us than with the wellbeing of our neighbor? Could it be that our grief and fear and confusion and desperation are turning us in on ourselves and leading us ever closer to an end none of us wants to consider?
Because God made us to be in community, I believe God is calling all of us to repentance: to move beyond our self-interests by listening before we speak, to strive for the common good of all, and to live each day God gives us bearing one another’s burdens. If we’re not willing to do at least that much, why should we expect God to step in to rescue us?
Pr. Randy Gehring