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Lent has begun.  And on the first day–Ash Wednesday–we were punched in the gut with the reality of our broken and wounded world and our need for God’s “shalom.”  Yesterday, 17 people–most of them teenagers–were killed by a 19 year old in a Florida high school. Once again, we weep for our children in the midst of trauma.

But as we weep, we must also weep for Nikolas Cruz, one of God’s children who had a long history of disturbed behavior with little effective intervention and who, for unknown reasons, chose Ash Wednesday/ Valentine’s Day to bring death to his community. We cannot take the well-worn path of de-humanizing Nikolas as “pure evil.” Nikolas is one of us. So, we must look at him in the context of a society that does not seek “shalom”–instead choosing to idolize individual rights over community needs, promote an economy of greed over the common good, remove social safety nets, tolerate the cracks through which some fall, criminalize mental illness, chronic poverty and homelessness, and incarcerate without thought of how to rehabilitate.

We are failing to seek God’s justice, and we are self-destructing.

O God, make us holy and whole.
O God, help us to bring justice and “shalom” to our world.
To learn more about our Lenten Compact and our fast for community well-being, go to the church website.

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