Monthly Archives: December 2012

Response to Tragedies Like Newtown: Get Your Hands Dirty

'Gun Wall' photo (c) 2011, Michael Saechang - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

In the wake of national tragedies like Newtown, we rush to solutions. We demand the elimination of assault weapons. We want to arm teachers and school staff. We ask the government to solve our problems because then we don’t have to get our own hands dirty. And we don’t look at the solutions that demand action on our part.

Do I believe we can find solutions that will end violence for good? No. There will always be violence and evil this side of Heaven because there is sin and free will.

But as followers of Christ, we can work for solutions that will lessen violence and bring about good in our communities. But these solutions demand action from each of us. Read the rest of this entry

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Tragedy and Trust

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West Paducah. Jonesboro. Littleton. Bailey. And now Newtown.

School shootings hit at the core of who we are as Americans and human beings. Innocent children murdered. We wonder where God is in the midst of unexplainable horror.

As a parent of elementary school daughters, this one hits home. What kind of horror did those children endure? Looking at the pictures of the children killed makes it become real. They look like the kids in my daughters’ classes. My heart and prayers go out to the families of those whose lives were taken far too early. Christmas will never be the same for them.

Dropping off our daughters at school today took on new meaning this morning. Each day we drop our kids off at school takes immense trust. Trust in the teachers and staff at the school. Trust in the community. We don’t have control over our children for seven hours each weekday.

Tragedies like Newtown put a strain on that trust. We wonder if violent acts could happen at our child’s school.

The truth is that there is evil in each of our communities every day. It doesn’t just enter our community in a tragedy.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have to lean on a God who gave up his own son to root out evil in our world. He understands the unimaginable heartache of watching his child suffer and die.

Ultimately, when I drop my daughters off at school I have to trust in God.

I still don’t understand why tragedies like this happen. I can’t imagine how God watches this unfold yet doesn’t command angels to stop unspeakable horror.

Yet I trust in a God who weeps with the parents of Newtown. I trust in a God who was in the rooms with the children who watched evil unfold in front of their eyes. I trust in a God who holds those children of Sandy Hook who are no longer with us.

I trust.

And I pray…

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Here and Now: Loving Our Parish

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Recently our little city of Edgewater just to the west of Denver was hit with a rash of graffiti. I first noticed marks of a night of illegal art on some hanging sculptures in the yard of a house we pass each day on the way to school. In recent months there have been at least 60-70 victims of graffiti. It’s hard to walk around Edgewater and not notice graffiti.

Teenagers in their boredom have left their mark on this city by defacing their neighbors’ homes with graffiti. Older neighbors fear for their safety as they believe graffiti is linked to gang behavior.

How are we leaving our mark?

Edgewater is our neighborhood; our parish. Parish is a seldom used word today but years ago it meant the territory or area assigned to a specific priest. That priest would be responsible for the pastoral care of that geographic area. The word parish was used most in Catholic circles.

Though the church I serve is located in a different neighborhood within a mile of Edgewater, our family is focused on deepening our roots in this neighborhood. Our kids go to school here and a lot of our family life revolves around this city that covers less than a square mile.  Read the rest of this entry

War on Christmas

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It’s that time of year again. Not just for Christmas trees, presents and carols but for the WAR ON CHRISTMAS!

Whether it’s just a fabricated, blown up message from Fox News or not, as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to think through what our response is to a changing culture.

If we look at the statistics of church attendance, we must realize that our culture is increasingly moving away from the historic Christian faith. Some are responding to these changes by blaming atheists and secular progressives. They call people to fight for celebrating Christmas by putting up nativity scenes on public property and saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” Fox News seems to be capitalizing on this fight response.

But I would call us to a different response. Read the rest of this entry

Complexities of Homelessness

Jennifer Foster/NYPD via Facebook

Jennifer Foster/NYPD via Facebook

This morning as I walked into church we already had a line of people waiting outside the door. They weren’t waiting to get into a service; they were waiting for bus tickets and a five dollar bill. For years our church has handed out bus tickets and five dollar bills on the first and fifteenth of each month. We also have a food bank that is open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Homelessness and poverty is something that is right on our doorstep every day. We can’t hide from it. Our church is just a block from Colfax Avenue which is a thoroughfare for the homeless in the Denver metro area.

How do we help the homeless and those living in poverty right here in our cities?

This past week we heard the story of NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo buying boots for Jeffrey Hillman who is homeless (see picture above). It’s just the type of story we love to hear over the holidays. But then this morning I read that Hillman was found this weekend barefoot again. It turns out that the boots are hidden because they are expensive and Hillman fears for his life if he wears them.

Helping the homeless is full of complexities. I don’t fault DePrimo for buying Hillman boots but was that really what he needed? This time of the year we hear many stories of generous folks giving to those in need. We should applaud that but at the same time I wonder what difference it really makes.

What we really need is more folks to take the harder path of walking alongside the homeless and those in need throughout the whole year.

It is a frustrating path and one that can get pretty discouraging. It’s much easier to give a one time gift.

At our church we are exploring how we can better walk alongside those in poverty and living homeless. We are stopping to give out five dollars twice a month and will be using the money for specific needs that we hear about. We want to make sure the money is going for something that will help someone in the long run.

Our dream is to start social entrepreneurship ventures that will create jobs and train folks in specific skills. There are some great models for ventures like this right here in the Denver metro area like Belay Enterprises. People in the West Colfax corridor need job options that will provide the training and patience they need as they turn their lives around. It isn’t an easy task but through walking alongside people in poverty we can give hope when it’s needed most.

It all starts with a relationship.