Sunday, May 31, 2009

Come Holy Spirit

I had intended to start this blog with some musing on the traditional prayer of Pentecost. "Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth."

Maybe another time.

Tonight I'm a bit heartsick at the news of a shooting in Wichita, Kansas, at Reformation Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the church body to which I belong. Somehow, when these sorts of things happen in an ELCA congregation, I take it to heart more than if it happens in another denomination. This betrays my sin of tribalism---something I think I'll be blogging about in the coming weeks.

This sort of violence is also something that I'll be blogging about in the weeks to come. It's something that has been on my mind for some time, increasingly so in the last three or four months. I'll blog about it because I don't know what to do about my feeling of helplessness in the face of violence. Writing about it feels like doing something, small though it may be.

Of course, what happened in Wichita is muddied by the victim's profession. He was a doctor who performed abortions. Most of the news stories I've read have been quick to point out he performed "late-term abortions." I'm not sure what that means, exactly. I have a friend who used to live in Wichita who told me he performed late term abortions on extensively deformed fetuses. I don't know what that means, either.

And how I feel about all that is difficult to sort through just now, too. Maybe someday, I'll write about my feelings around abortion. Not tonight.

I'm increasingly disturbed by these attempts to take the law into one's own hand, and a very "frontier-style" of law at that. I'm disturbed that this took place in a church building. I'm unsettled that an usher at a church was gunned down while his wife was in the choir. I grieve that there are children in that congregation who will know that a church building is not a guarantee of safety.

What I do know is that the God I worship is not the same God that encourages people to make comments on news stories that revel in the violent death of this man.

Just last night, I put wrote the introductory note on the side of this blog, and I ended it with a paraphrase of Tertullian. "Let us show the world how we love one another."

Today, I feel we only show the world how we judge on another, how we condemn one another, how we hate one another.

Come, Holy Spirit.

Lord, have mercy.


  1. Neil- this is the first time I have read this blog. I was raised Lutheran but I don't much subscribe to any religion in my life at this point unless you count something like "the force" from Star Wars. Strange I know- but that feels comfortable enough to me.

    But I feel much like you do about this sad situation and I am grateful to hear you talk about it- not with answers but with questions. There is no sense in it. I will have to stop by your blog again. Reading it feels like I am back at Columbia discussing over a coffee or a beer again...

  2. "What I do know is that the God I worship is not the same God that encourages people to make comments on news stories that revel in the violent death of this man.
    Come, Holy Spirit.

    Lord, have mercy."

    and to this i say, 'amen.' thanks for writing Neil. i was listening to this on NPR this afternoon and grieving, too.