Lord, is it I?

Beloved in Christ Jesus:

Like many of you I awakened on Tuesday morning to the tragic, fear producing and unwelcome news of yet more terrorists bombings. This time Brussels, Belgium is the epicenter. Just last week it was Yemen, Nigeria and Turkey. The list is too long to enumerate here all of the places in the world that feel held in the death dealing grip of violence even at this very moment. They are legion.

"The violence .... which we all too easily accept as the “new normal” is the tragic outworking of unconverted hearts and lives."

Throughout the day I have had a number of conversations about the seeming dominance of violence in our world. That violence is not confined to the use of automatic weapons or explosives. It shows up too in our domiciles, our media and our politics. Could it be that how we see one another or fail to see one another is what we end up acting out individually and collectively? The failure (not that would imply trying and missing the goal) or the utter unwillingness to see everyone as a beloved child of God is in my judgment at the root the pathology. The violence (word and deed) which we all too easily accept as the “new normal” is the tragic outworking of unconverted hearts and lives. It’s normal and I refuse to accept it. We must be converted to the conviction and behavior that “no one is an island”, that our destinies across this globe are tied together and that the failure to accept this truth puts us in grave mortal and eternal danger.

So as a part of my own soul work this Holy Week against the backdrop the violence of heart and life that seeks to undo us I am holding in tension a familiar snippet of scripture and an equally familiar hymn. The scripture snippet: "as much as you have done (or not done) it for these who are my brothers and sisters…" The hymn: "Were You There." For every act or word of violence wherever and whenever it comes to your attention you may want to interrogate your own being by whispering aloud or silently one or both of these snippets. If per chance you find yourself “almost persuaded to be a Christian” but not yet converted to “be the change” you may want to allow one more question to get in your face: “Lord is it I?” At the very least we might just be ready for Easter and new life.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

+Gregory Vaughn Palmer
Resident Bishop, Ohio West Area