St. Peter's Blog 'Reflections on National Walk-Out Day' from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – North Wales, PA's Blog

Reflections on National Walk-Out Day

Image Thursday, Mar 15, 2018
Author: Pastor Andreas Wagner

Students at North Penn and many other local school districts continued to honor the victims of Parkland High School in Florida with a 17 minute walk out yesterday. We held a community meeting at the same time here at St. Peter's.  I reflected on it during our Werdnesday night service.

The reflection here is based on the story of Peter's betrayal from Matthew 26: 31-34 

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[c]

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

What is the value of “good intentions?” Well, good intentions are good. They beat the opposite. Good intentions indicate that someone’s heart is at the right place, as we say. We need people who mean well. But scripture also reminds us that good intentions alone are not sufficient. We get that in this story we just heard. I am rooting for Peter here. I think he is trying to be brave and to do the right thing; he has noble intentions: “I will never disown you.” He intends to support Jesus even as they start to come after him.

Well, easier said than done! And I can relate to that. This morning we had a community meeting here at church parallel to the Walk-Out of students in many of our school districts, including North Penn. We had county commissioners here. We had representatives from both major parties. We had people from the community. Toward the end of the session, a man from the audience asked me a question. He was from a local synagogue. He wanted to know from me whether it is difficult for clergy to speak about gun control. He said he felt that he doesn’t hear much about this in our houses of worship. And I said it’s absolutely an issue. Clergy have become afraid that they are perceived as partisan. They are afraid to get drawn into the political divide and that it will split their community. And that fear is stifling and not exactly helpful in our vocation to speak the truth as we prayerfully perceive it. As for me, I would like to say this: I don’t think Jesus, our Lord, would ever care much about the second amendment, certainly not as a right that Christians should fight for, and certainly not as a free pass to be armed to your teeth. Jesus was never armed, and he didn’t ask his disciples to be armed.

And yet, clergy or other congregational leaders standing up for sensible gun control (not really intending to take away the second amendment), feel a little bit like Peter in the courtyard. “Aren’t you one of them? Aren’t you too political? Aren’t you anti-American?” ”But then, similar things were said about the people who marched for civil rights 50 years ago, rights that are now widely accepted but that were then much more controversial and even dangerous to support. I think the blood of the children shed from Columbine to Sandy Hook, to Parkland High is on our hands, collectively as a society. Because we know the statistics, we know how it is done in other countries, and yet we continue to be so tragically deadlocked in our own chambers of government. Good intentions and beautiful prayers are not enough. We need to speak out in support of the most vulnerable members of society, our children, turn the usual politics aside and ask Christ what he truly wants us to support in the public square. And that has to do with a discernment of our values, based on our identity as Christians. I appeal to you, my brothers and sisters, not to vote a certain way, but to discern your values deeply and prayerfully, especially when it comes to the issues that so often divide us, to speak your voice and to be tolerant of others. And don’t ask your brother or sister, “Are you one of them?” And please don’t ask your pastor to be value neutral. It is impossible.

May God bless this beautiful country.

And may God give us the strength to live peacefully together.


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