As Tulsa joins the growing list of communities rocked by gun violence and mass casualty events, the members and churches of Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery add our voices to the chorus of voices praying for the families and friends of those impacted by this heinous act. Hospitals and medical facilities, of all places, should be a sanctuary for healing and wholeness. This act of violence is particularly shattering because it occurred in a place that so many people go to be made well. All Oklahomans stand with the St. Francis Hospital community and rest of Tulsa as they recover.
For many in Tulsa and surrounding communities, this shooting will hit exceptionally close to home. The doctors, nurses, and medical professionals that were killed or traumatized by this evil act were our doctors, nurses, and medical professionals - our friends and neighbors. We have walked those bloodied halls and on other days it would have, could have, been us, which is its own form of terrorism.
It should not be like this for Tulsa or Eastern Oklahoma or our nation. The greatest nation in the world should not have the greatest loss of life due to gun violence. The leading cause of death for young people should not be gun violence. That it is like this, repeatedly, in this community and so many others lately, betrays the moral and political failure of it all.
Following the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I wrote about the sins that were prompting so much of the violence and death: too much access to too many guns for too many violent individuals, our public failure to adequately address mental health issues in our communities, the growing threat of white supremacists and nationalists, and a toxic masculinity that drives too many men to kill women and often the children, family, and friends around them.
If you recall, that shooting took place on Ash Wednesday as Lent and its call towards repentance was beginning. I wrote, “Here is my point: we are falling short of the glory of God. We are failing short of what God intends for us and God’s creation. Individually, corporately, and nationally, we need to confess for all these sins and our complicitness in them, but we also have to do more.
In our Mark 1:9-15 passage, the context for Jesus saying “believe in the good news” is repentance. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Part of making that repentance real is turning from the ways of sin that brought us to that moment of repentance. It is more than just words. It is action. Believing in the good news means helping to make that good news happen, helping to reshape the world.”
Please pray for Tulsa. Repent as well. Most of all, act so that one day in some community in this country there will be a last mass shooting and the Kingdom of God will be a little closer.
Rev. Tim Blodgett