Newtown, the shadow of death and the path of peace

Newtown, the Shadow of Death and The Path of Peace: A Statement from Bishop Ken Carter

As a bishop, I am convinced that the most helpful responses to the recent deaths of twenty seven children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut are not broad and generic ecclesial statements, but local, contextual and real conversations--among families and friends, in small groups and sermons--that are at the same time biblical, pastoral and prophetic.
These conversations, if they are faithful, will confront the hard realities of being followers of a non-violent Jesus in an increasingly violent world. These conversations will reflect on prayer and compassion; human sin in its personal, political and economic dimensions--for example, the anger that resides within us and the unchecked lobbying and market forces in the entertainment and weapon industries; the abuse of freedom, even the right to bear arms; how we are our brother's and sister's keepers in responding to mentally troubled members of our families and communities, and the necessity of civic engagement on behalf of life that transcends political partisanship.
Because I trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, I am open to the possibility that experience can alter our preconceived and deeply held positions. In the scriptures this is defined as wisdom. In this historical moment, and in this holy season, disciples of Jesus are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5). 
Many are trying to make sense of the recent killings. What has happened in Newtown during this Advent season is not incomprehensible. Children are killed in war zones. The events of Newtown are horrific, but comprehensible. This is the world a child, Jesus, was born into, and this is the underlying scandal and mystery of the gospel, which was and always is an answer to the prayer of Zechariah, that "through the heartfelt mercies of God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace" (Luke 1, The Message).
Ken Carter
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference

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