Bishop Delores J. Williamston: Becoming Instruments of Peace

Bishop Delores J. Williamston
January 24, 2023


As I hopped into the car Monday morning to drive to Monroe for the first stop on our Boots on the Ground tour of Louisiana, I did so with a heavy heart. 

The previous day was marred by gun violence in Louisiana. 

Twelve people were hurt early Sunday morning following a mass shooting at a bar in Baton Rouge. Later that afternoon, eight people — including three children — were shot in a Shreveport home. 

Both of these incidents follow the Saturday shooting in Monterey Park, California, where 11 people were tragically killed and nine others injured inside a dance studio during a Lunar New Year celebration.

In the month we honor the life and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a quote of Dr. King's resonates. 

"Violence begets violence; hate begets hate; and toughness begets a greater toughness. It is all a descending spiral, and the end is destruction — for everybody. Along the way of life, someone must have enough sense and morality to cut off the chain of hate." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who will be that someone?
Will it be you?
Can it be us?
Do we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, have the fortitude and courage to say enough is enough?

Violence begets violence; hate begets hate; and toughness begets a greater toughness. It is all a descending spiral, and the end is destruction — for everybody. Along the way of life, someone must have enough sense and morality to cut off the chain of hate.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I pray so. 

Make no mistake - violence in all forms is contemptible. Time after time, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, called on the disciples (and all of us) to reject vengeance and to, instead, become instruments of peace.  

Matthew 26:51-52

"At this, one of Jesus' companions drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him. "For all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

I lament the loss of hopes and dreams of lives cut short and physically changed forever by these shootings and so many others in our state, our nation, and our world. 

Today, as you read this, families in California are paralyzed by a sadness that is beyond words. And families in Shreveport and Baton Rouge are sitting in hospital waiting rooms, clinging to hope and signs of recovery for those who survived the shootings.

"In your mercy Lord...in your mercy!" 

We are called to pray for all of them and will do so earnestly. 

Our prayers can be activated with action, and I am thankful for the incredible work and witness of The United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society. Their dedication to the work of living faith, seeking justice, and pursuing peace has been transformative.  

They have recently shared ways churches can speak into the sin of gun violence and prevent future violence. Here are just a few calls to action all of us can do; more can be found here.  

  • Advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence.
     
  • Congregations can make preventing gun violence a regular part of conversations and prayer times. Gun violence must be worshipfully and theologically reflected on. United Methodist churches can frame conversations theologically by utilizing resources such as "Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities: Reflections on Gun Violence from Micah 4:1-4" produced by the General Board of Church and Society.
     
  • Connect with and support those who are directly impacted by gun violence. Support gun violence prevention programs, de-escalation groups, safety trainings, and support groups for survivors of gun violence.

 
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