June 20, 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This is a follow up to my June 13 letter about the shooting in Orlando. In the midst of my own pain and anger about that shooting, I needed to dig deep within myself and reflect on how to be an instrument of God’s peace and not just another angry voice. I sincerely hope that you have been steeped in prayer and reflection over this past week. I also hope that you have been discovering ways in which you can be an instrument of God’s peace in your everyday life and relationships.
Now, to be more specific about the shooter’s direct attack on LGBTQ people – I consider this shooting to be a reprehensible act of malicious violence against a group of people simply because of who they are. There is absolutely no justification for such an act. I find in my own heart a mixture of profound sadness and angry disgust that such a thing could even happen.
So, where does one turn for a sense of direction, a sense of what to do? Here is what I have found to be helpful. The Scripture focus in my Spiritual Direction Group last Friday was a reading of the Beatitudes from The Message version of Matthew 5:1-10. What shimmered for me in that reading was verse 8: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” Those words captured for me what I was trying to suggest in my previous letter. My hope was that turning to prayer and reflection would allow God to get my inside world, my mind and heart, put right, so that then I could see God in the outside world. What I mean by that is that I want God to so permeate my heart and mind with God’s love that I see the face of God in the face of every person I meet, regardless of their gender, race, sexual preference, religion, or status in society. Because only then will I be able to truly follow Jesus’ command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12).
Empowered to love others as God has loved me moves me to take seriously the phrase in our Affirmation of Faith “to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” (ELW, page 236). For me that means finding ways to stand with and to stand up on behalf of all people who are not experiencing God’s justice and peace, and at this time, especially our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. That means working for laws and systems that break down walls that divide us, that separate us into “us” and “them.” And it means constantly seeking ways in which each of us can be instruments of God’s peace in what we say, in what we think, in what we write, in what we post on Facebook, in what we do, and in how we treat one another.
So I will continue to plead with God and with you that our prayers, our words, and our actions will help to bring to our communities and our world healing, hope, joy, justice, and the peace of God that passes all human understanding.
Peace & Joy in Christ,
Bishop Steve Delzer
Southeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA