Bishop Scott Mayer issued this statement in the wake of the Sunday shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, and the stabbings at a Saturday Hanukkah service in the state of New York.
On December 29, the First Sunday after Christmas and the Fifth Day of the Christmas Season, Episcopalians heard the Gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Words from this Gospel can offer comfort in the wake of the shooting during a worship service at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement that left three dead, including the shooter; and a stabbing attack at a Hanukkah celebration Saturday night in New York state that left five people wounded.
What is darker than someone seeking to kill people as they worship?
And yet we are assured that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
It is right that we react with horror, anger, and sadness when these things happen, for how horrible it would be for us to get used to them, for such outrages to become routine. We are guided in how to react by today’s Collect: “Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your Incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives . . .”
Yes, we are called to be the light in this world, to offer hope in the face of violence, to model courage as we seek solutions to violence, and to build community focused, not on our differences, but on our shared humanity.
These are not small things, but we are up to the challenge, for in congregation after congregation I see this work already begun in you.
Please pray for the dead, pray for the wounded, pray for those who grieve. And continue finding ways to be the light that defeats the darkness.