Wednesday, September 25, 2013

He's going to be fine ... and so will I

From the Daily Mail
Last week's shooting on the South Side left me rattled. Not only because a 3-year-old was hit in the face. But also because my minister barely mentioned it during Sunday's service.

The little guy, Deonta Howard, will need plastic surgery. But there was no brain damage, and it looks like his vision will be unaffected. 13 people were hit by 16 bullets, and not a one will die. It is a miracle.

These thoughts about God bring me back to the unfortunate service last Sunday. My minister spent his whole sermon on why we need a third income source for the church -- a Capital Campaign to pay for building repairs. There was all sorts of talk about the campaign kick off in the park afterward, complete with hotdogs, ice cream and games for kids. There were two sentences about the mass shooting just miles away from our church.

My minister's behavior Sunday was the failing of a single man. A good man. A man who has helped our congregation grow and help the community. A man who screwed up.

It has not shaken my faith in God, certainly, because my minister is not God. It has not shaken my commitment to "organized religion" because my minister's one bad choice should not be an indictment of every and all church activity.

My minister should have addressed what happened last Thursday night. He should have helped those of us who were struggling with it. His talk about central air conditioning and new Sunday School classrooms and the party in the park just made it hurt worse. For all I have to do is ride the el a couple of stops and I'll find myself in a neighborhood where, when families go to the park, the kids don't get balloons, they get shot in the face.

BUT it was on his watch that our church became a founding partner in the local food pantry. In addition to delivering the canned goods collected from our congregation every week, my minister shows up on Wednesdays to serve meals, help the homeless get proper identification (try to find a job without a legal ID card), and arrange for lower income families to keep their lights on when they can't pay the power company. I am so very proud of him for that.

He has also continued many of the good works begun by our previous minister,* including mobilizing us for LGBT and women's reproductive rights.

My minister has a very important job, and last Sunday he messed up. My job is less important, and the consequences are less when I mess up, but it happens.

So I forgive him. Hell, if the mother of that little boy can forgive the thug who shot her baby, I can forgive my minister.

I am grateful to everyone who listened and commented as I worked this through. Blogging has been very, VERY therapeutic as I have wrestled with this.

*I admit I felt a greater affinity for Rev. Jay, who left in 2000 to be closer to his elderly mother out east. But many in our congregation felt that Rev. Jay kept us "standing still" and didn't focus enough on growing our Sunday School program and other things that would attract new members.


  1. Anonymous6:47 PM

    I really admire the way that you've shared how you've been working through some very complicated feelings about this over your last few posts. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I am glad that you worked through it!