by the Rev. Charlie Dupree
Yesterday, a friend sent me a picture. It was a scene of a smoky, downtown Manhattan. I’m sure you’ve read about the wildfires in Canada that are creating these hazy skies.
And, there were shootings in Richmond on Tuesday afternoon.
Following a high school graduation, a 19-year-old opened fire, killing two and injuring others. Those that weren’t injured physically were certainly injured emotionally and will carry those memories with them for the rest of their lives.
Friends, this happened right down the street.
I mention both of these events because sometimes being a neighbor can make me feel open to the world in ways that I don’t want to be. We cannot always control what our neighbors do. We cannot always control what happens in neighboring cities or countries. But I am certain of this: neighbors are not intended to wish each other harm. Smoke will naturally drift over our human-constructed boundaries, but to bring a gun into a space of youth and family and celebration and to open fire seems to me like one of the most un-Godly things a person can do.
I grieve for our neighbors this morning. I grieve for the parents who are crying. I grieve for the students who are scared. I grieve for teachers who have to be on high-alert. I grieve for the brokenness of the young man who wielded the gun. I grieve for those who were so, so unnecessarily killed.
Right now, I feel very much like a neighbor, and right now, feeling like a neighbor makes me feel vulnerable and scared. But I know that Christ still calls us to be a neighbor and see others as our neighbor, even if we want to run into our rooms and lock the doors and never come out.
I have reached out to our neighbors, the clergy of Grace and Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, beside which the shooting took place. I offered the support of St. Paul’s and assured them that they weren’t in this alone.
They hope to plan a prayer service in the next few days. I’ll keep you posted.
If you’d like to see a message from Bishop Stevenson about the shooting, click here.
May God stir up in each of us what it means to be a Christ-like neighbor to each other and to the world, and, may God hold the hurting and the grieving in God’s almighty hands of love.
See you in church,