The following was published in the Valley News on August 16, 2019 and written by Pastor Kyle Seibert. The article can be found here.
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Anger. Fear. Grief. Lament. Sadness. Despair. Anxiety. These are emotions that we have all labeled within ourselves or others from time to time.
These are some of the emotions that I have felt recently with news of more mass shootings. These are some of the emotions that the congregation I pastor, Our Savior Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry, have felt these past days, months, and years. Our “thoughts and prayers” led us to action, and we hosted a “Community Vigil for the Victims of Gun Violence (And the Rest of Us)” last Friday evening.
I spent much of the week speaking with and interviewing with news outlets about the vigil. They were all interested in the voyeuristic aspects of a church engaging violence. They wanted to know if we would have security present and what active shooter training was like. The articles, news clips and photographs that were published all framed our vigil as a political movement against legislative actions by President Donald Trump and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.
They all ignored the realities of death.
Not one mentioned our Upper Valley community coming together to share in their lament, to support one another in their grief, and face the human realities of violence and death — forming a space rooted in love.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Our culture avoids uncomfortable emotions. But we as a church decided to sit with them and face them head on with a diverse group from the Upper Valley. That is what is newsworthy: Diverse peoples, supporting one another in their humanness, in their tears, and in their mourning.
The Friday vigil was not a cheap, partisan charade to make those in attendance feel good about themselves. The vigil was about creating space to come together to grieve, find power in being together and hope for a future.
Hear me: We need sensible action. Absolutely. But we also need to really and truly face what disturbs our souls. While that might not sell news, it is a sign of hope in these troubled times.
REV KYLE SEIBERT
The writer is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry in Hanover.