Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.* Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’
Yesterday, I would say I was having a "Martha moment". I had read the many emails flooding my box about the shooting at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, and then about the attempts to discuss human sexuality at the Lambeth Conference in England without the active participation of the LGBT community. I was growing more and more despondent over the seemingly endless stream of hatred toward gays and "liberals" in one email...and then the frustration with what seems to be another message from the Anglican world that gay people can be seen, but not heard. I was starting to feel the branches that had grown up from my mustard seed the week before beginning to wilt and wither under the hot sun.
In other words....I was becoming distracted by the "things" instead of putting my focus back where it needs to be, especially at this time. I must not forget the promises I was feeling last week that "God will take care of all this." Because God will. How that will look, I don't know.
But what about the shooting? Wasn't that senseless violence? Where was God there? God doesn't want to see innocent lives lost? I would say yes to the first two questions. As for "where God was"...well, I don't have a GPS device that can determine that sort of thing, but I don't believe God 'condoned' that act of aggression. However, out of this tragedy, what is emerging is a story of a gunman who was suffering in this economy, and had been fed full of the hatred spewed by the likes of FOX News' Sean Hannity and others who lay the blame for all things bad on "liberals" "gays" and "women libbers". And this lost soul decided the UU's harbored such "people" and thus he went there to kill two people, and wound five others. And so while we mourn this act of senseless violence, we must also as a society recognize the factors that fueled this: poverty and unchecked hate speech. And we (me included) can demand more action on poverty...and certainly when we encounter "hate speech" in our presence, we can overcome fear....and call a bully a bully.
And actions at Lambeth? I can't do anything except pray. Pray that by some miracle a la the Book of Acts that the Holy Spirit can help translate two very divergent viewpoints...and find a middle ground that will keep people at the table. Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda....they've walked away in more ways than one. But let's work with those who, despite their serious misgivings, have come to Lambeth. May God give them the patience to muddle their way through their differences and me the peace of mind that this is out of my hands, but God will not forget his LGBT children.
Post-script: A client who has closely followed the UU church shooting informed me today that the gunman, who failed in his suicide attempt because some UN-armed church members tackled him, had a history of domestic violence. He had threatened his ex-wife by putting a gun to her head. Ex-wife was a member of that UU congregation.