Friday, December 14, 2012

Bishop Alan Scarfe on Friday's shootings

The Rt. Rev. Alan Scarfe, of Des Moines, is the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. He addressed this message to Iowa Episcopalians Friday evening.

From the Bishop:

As we all remain stunned and deeply sorrowful at the tragedy in the Connecticut Elementary School this morning, our prayers and thoughts go out to the parents, families and friends of everyone involved. The Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese in Connecticut were heading out on their way to the scene shortly before I started this letter. They go simply to offer their loving presence in the name of our God who grieves with all. Prayer is vital at this time, not as a mere consolation, but because evil has reared its abhorrent head, and the people of goodness must express their refusal to be bowed.

That resolve must however over time, and yet with haste, transform into a more active pose. As we reflect throughout the nation of a year in which subways, shopping malls, movie theaters and now kindergarten have become our own killing fields, it is not sufficient to pass things off as actions of one or two deeply disturbed individuals. The pace of the individual trend is picking up too quickly.

The Church as a promoter of community has a vital part to play in any response. We are allowing our religious differences to overwhelm a united call for peaceable relations as asked for by the Gospels. We are overlooking our representatives’ incapacities to behave civilly with each other; and we are denying that being a nation still at war has any effect upon our cultural values or atmosphere. We also refuse to acknowledge that if guns were not as readily available, they would not be such a ready option when minds are tipped into madness.

In this year when we have dedicated ourselves to being God’s witness for a time like this, and in the public sphere, I hope we will be able to share with each other some positive ways of taking care where God has placed us. Parker Palmer’s The Company of Strangers predicted that the loss of a true public place where we can meet and engage each other as interesting, not threatening, strangers made by God will create ever increasing isolation not only in our private homes but in our privatized religious and governmental institutions. If you haven’t picked up this book for a while, I encourage you to do so.

O God whose beloved Son took children into His arms and blessed them; Give us grace to entrust these little ones to your never failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Bishop Alan Scarfe, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa

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