I lowered the flags in front of the church today.  Again.  As I did so, I thought, we should probably just leave them where they are.  Until something changes.  I lowered them as a sign of mourning for all the lives that were lost this week, in Louisiana, in Minnesota, and now in Dallas.

Before that, in Istanbul, Orlando, Paris, and other places too numerous to mention.

I am stunned at the way we react to these kinds of events.  One group backs into it’s corner and provides as many sound bytes as it can to justify it’s position.  Another does the same.  Others say nothing.  Others, like me, struggle to find words for the place we find ourselves as a country and as a world.

In all of the complexities of these issues, we seek to make sense of it all, but it doesn’t make sense to us.  We are reactive instead of proactive.  The complexity calls us to reach out to one another.  And that calls us to move out of our corners.  And truly change.  And that is something we don’t want to do. Because our side is right.

One thing is clear.  Our corners aren’t working.  The rhetoric that is spewed isn’t working.  At times like these, we call on faith to see us through.  But we leave our faith in our corners, and we are reluctant to bring it with us.

Our mandates to love one another, to love our enemies, to choose love over hate stay back as we forge ahead in blame and in solidarity with those who hold only our views.  Just try posting something on Facebook about how we should have a serious conversation about how we should choose love over hate and how returning violence for violence isn’t the answer.  You will feel assaulted.  I guarantee it.

We are saddened by the horrific events that keep on happening.  It causes us to retreat into our corners even further.  We cling even harder to the beliefs which divide us.  But hope isn’t in those corners.  It is out there in the middle.  If we are ever going to have progress, we have to meet there.

If we are true to the calling of God on our lives to live out the message of the Gospel that Jesus called us to, we have to meet there.  If the one we profess faith in is truly the one we trust in, we have to meet in the middle.  That’s where hope is.  That’s where trust is, and that’s where we must go to meet the author of our faith.

As for our flags, we will raise them, eventually, and then lower them as needed, as a sign of grief and solidarity when another shooting or bombing occurs.

I will continue to pray for a day when senseless violence isn’t a part of our daily routine.  I hope you will too.  And I hope to see you in the middle.  That’s where Jesus is.  And that’s where our hope is.

Peace!

Gary