I’ll Sort Them Out Later…

Yesterday, the church and school went on ‘safe mode’ or lock down. An active shooter was reported less than a block away, two bodies were found, and a SWAT Team was called in. The area looked like it was under siege! While we still do not have all of the details, we do know that several police and news helicopters hovered overhead, roadways were blocked, and area police were dispatched to the scene. My house was in the midst of it and I was unable to return there until much later in the evening, and even then, I needed permission and an escort.

Father John Francis suffered a heart attack late Monday evening at his residence. He was rushed to St. Francis Medical Center in Delaware. He arrived in time, received now two stents to help with blood flow and reduce clotting. Luckily, at least as of this writing, he is on the mend and without the need for a Coronary Bypass. He is resting comfortably with his family, and our prayers, by his side.

The President, dignitaries and world leaders, close friends, and family all gathered as one people – setting aside petty differences and political rivalries – in our nation’s capital today at the Washington National Cathedral to honor and bid farewell to someone who served in public life for over 70 years. Today we, as a grateful nation, said thank you and goodbye to the 41st President of the United States. His life was not perfect, his policies not all we agreed with, but overall the world is better off having him been a part of it, then not. Today, God called home George H. W. Bush.

Contrast all of this, last evening, when one of our parishioners posted an image of the Holy Family detained behind a fence. It was actually a photograph taken at an Indianapolis based church. A political point? Perhaps. A Gospel statement? Absolutely. The Scripture mandates to us, as Christians are clear: the foreigner, the alien, the marginalized, the in need, the forgotten, the widow, and the orphaned. All of these ‘others’ are to be welcomed and included and given safe passage and sanctuary, as needed, IF we are truly following Christ. There are no exceptions. No ‘buts’ and no ‘what abouts or ifs’. The image, while provocative, is no more provocative than the one I used today for my own blog. Why? Because we need to repent, to change, and to become a people of love. We cannot do any of this without dying to self, letting of preconceived notions, listening to the voice of others (especially those we may not agree with), checking our prejudices; allowing for change from within.

After our parishioner posted this image, he ‘tagged’ me in it and soon someone on his ‘friends’ list was not very friendly at all! He lashed out at everyone, including me, without knowing a single thing about me, my work, my life, or my mandate to live differently. He lashed out at anyone who dare do the unthinkable and welcome the immigrant. There was no seeing, hearing, or feeling compassion for anyone other than to make his point the only one that mattered. Lives ending, lives in turmoil, moms and dads carrying their children thousands of miles to seek safety, none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was hate. His first post was simple and direct, “Well don’t come here Illegally and maybe you won’t be ripped apart. I mean it’s VERY close to common fucking sense.” His next ones included the following lines:

 

  • People like you are the problem with this country. Everyone is free everything for free, and then you bitch about your tax rates. Poor illegal immigrants coming to the country let them stay let them stay, but won’t give them a home. We can’t just pop up fucking tent cities for every fuckin person that what’s to get in this country.

 

  • Here’s an idea, we’re gonna take 20% of your check and your whole family’s check for the rest of your natural born life – to support the number of illegal people that come into this country. How fast will you lift your pen and sign on the dotted line.

 

  • So why don’t you all crawl out of the your little perfect entitled must do right to humanity bubble and apply to REAL LIFE AND THE WAY THINGS ACTUALLY WORK.

 

  • Keep crying and crying and crying saying what’s right and what’s wrong and do this.

 

  • It’s f$#%^&g embarrassing. As are all of you!

 

It was unbelievable to me. Unbelievable that we, as a nation, have become so bitter. So hateful. So unwelcoming. It is unbelievable that we cannot hear any other viewpoints or even make room for the suggestion that we might actually find a way through this if only we work together.

I know that not every one of you will agree with the manner in which I see the world through my ‘Gospel lenses’, but I will always listen to you and your views. I will never dismiss you. I will certainly never disparage you in hate or abandon you. I also know that couple who lost their lives in that horrific scene down the street, no matter how they died, and the family of President Bush, and the first responders who ran to and not away, along with our teachers and staff and all who were impacted by the brevity of life for just a few moments yesterday; all of us, we would tell you something different today. At least that is my naïve prayer.

Oh, that church, Christ Church Cathedral, in Indianapolis, Indiana and part of the Episcopal Diocese, that posted the original image that caused all the above stir? The Rector put it best when he stated:

“Our job as faithful people is to welcome people with mercy. Our religious images are supposed to remind us where God’s heart is. God’s heart is compassion. With people who are in need, and our heart should be there, too.”

Perhaps this is a good season to step back and follow the old adage someone so poignantly attributed to God, “Just love everyone; I’ll sort them out later.”
 

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