Rachel Escamilla, our Perkins Intern, reminded us of this during our devotional in staff meeting the morning after the carnage in Las Vegas. It is John 11:35. Lazarus has died before Jesus arrives, and sisters Mary and Martha are simply beside themselves. It is not when Jesus is told of Lazarus’ death that Jesus cries. It is when Jesus sees Mary and Martha crying that he too weeps. This has been instructive and inspiring in Christian tradition ever since: Jesus moves in love and empathy as he cries with all who cry out and mourn.
We have all been crying out and mourning. As we did with the adults at the nightclub in Orlando, Fla. in 2016, and as we did with the children and adults of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn. in 2012, we have been crying out and mourning for those murdered and injured in Las Vegas. We have been crying out to God: “How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:2b). “How long, LORD, must I call out for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2). This is raw and this is real, just as it was for Martha and Mary. This is where we all begin in our grief.
This Sunday, we will begin a spiritual conversation about putting God first in our lives. But we must also cry out and mourn together. To that end, there will be some different elements to worship including special music, prayers, candles, and an opportunity for all to write prayers on large paper panels in the Gathering Area for our sisters and brothers in Las Vegas. On Monday, these panels will be divided up, rolled up and mailed to the three United Methodist Churches in Las Vegas. We want them to know first and foremost that as they grieve they are not alone, and to remind them that for all of them in Las Vegas and for all of us here, “Jesus wept.”
Breathe peace (John 16:33),