May 14 2019

Pastor Mike at Aztec Methodist Church

News of another shooting at a house of worship arrived last Saturday, this one at a synagogue in Poway, California, near San Diego. There was one fatality and three other injuries. The shooting came on the last day of the Passover celebration. Social media searches indicate that the shooter hoped for many more deaths. Easter Sunday it was the bombings at churches in Sri Lanka. Suicide bombers detonated their explosions in five churches during Easter celebrations, and in three hotels that serve primarily foreign guests. The death toll stands at 253 with possibly 500 injured. Authorities have blamed a local Islamic group with ties to ISIS, though details are murky at best, and there have been further explosions, at least one during a confrontation with police. These events followed a shooting at two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 43 dead and more than 40 injured. The two mosques were in the middle of prayer services. The shooter posted a live webcast of his shooting spree.

I could go on about other earlier shootings or attacks on houses of worship. They have become all too frequent. One thing many of these acts of murder and violence have in common is that they are done in the name of religious belief. Mainstream believers in all major religions reject such a claim. But throughout history people have twisted their beliefs to justify attacking those of another faith just because they hold that faith. The shooters in both California and New Zealand claimed that they were defending Christianity against infidels. The bombers in Sri Lanka said they were retaliating for the Christchurch shootings. Cycles of violence and retaliation are not a solution we should encourage.

Another factor many perpetrators share is that they are young. They have grown up in their church or mosque or synagogue, but somehow their childhood faith didn’t seem to satisfy their needs. As they “became adults” they moved away and listened much more to people they discovered on-line and their grievances became aggravated. As one commentator put it they have decided to make a permanent solution to temporary problems and difficulties. This applies whether they turn their violence outward to others, or inward to suicide (also an increasing problem). The problems are related.

So how should we address these issues? The first answer I have may seem trite, but is the most important. We need to pray. We need to devote a part of our prayer life to our society. We need to pray for a restraining influence of the Spirit on all words and actions that hurt one another. We need to pray for every young person we know that they may be protected from the influences of evil that permeate our culture (world wide). We need to pray for those who are purveyors of hatred as a solution who incite others to violence. We need to pray for a movement of God’s Spirit throughout the world so that ”the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord” (Habakkuk 2:14 , Isaiah 11:9 ). I know my own prayer life usually centers on those around me, and on my own needs. I need to spend more focus on world problems as well, and I invite you to join me.

But we also need to intensify our efforts to reach out to people who are having problems. We need to make sure they know someone cares about them, and will be there to offer emotional support. We need to find ways to let them know that God’s love is with them. And we need to offer to be God’s hands and feet and voice to reach out to them. These all apply to people of any age, but especially to younger people. We cannot reach everyone, but we can reach someone, and that is all God asks of us. An old phrase says we should “make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Jesus”. That is what God asks of each of us.

Aztec United Methodist Church

Sunday Schedule

8:45am   Sunday School
10:00am Worship Service

Community Assistance

Community assistance is available between 8:30am and 1:00pm from Monday through Thursday.

Upcoming Sermons

May 26
Obeying the Spirit
Acts 16:6-15
Luke 24:36-49

June 2
Obedience to God’s Call
Acts 16:16-34
Luke 24:44-53

June 9
The working of God’s Spirit
Acts 2:1-21
John 14:15-27

June 16
The mystery of God
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

June 23
Freedom in Christ
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

June 30
The Costs of Following Jesus
2 Kings 2:1-14
Luke 9:51-62

Child Care Available

Child care is available between 8:45am and 11:00am so that you are more easily able to attend the service and Sunday school.

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Daily Devotion

daily words of wisdom and faith from Upper Room Books
  • Today’s Reflection SOMETIMES you get so focused on the trials in a particular season that you miss the bigger picture of life. Meditate on how God’s purpose is unfolding in this season of your life. How do you feel about your current season? How do you relate to the voices of both autumn and winter? […]

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