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Finding Faith: An act of love can change a life

How have we become so immune to the violence and how badly we’ve failed our kids? We now have sides that are so entrenched over the issue of gun violence in America, that the vast majority of reasonable people who find themselves uncomfortably in the middle feel there is no way through. After all, I’m just one person. What difference can I make?

Devlyn Brooks
Devlyn Brooks

I have been doing journalism long enough to remember when a school shooting stopped us in our tracks, and every newsroom in the country would be engulfed in the story for days. The news was so incomprehensible it demanded that kind of response.

Now — not even 24 hours after a 15-year-old boy reportedly shot and killed at least four fellow students in an Oxford, Michigan, high school on Tuesday — the shock is how mundane the shooting has become. Four teenagers died, and you’re lucky if you find a story about it at the top of a news website. Social media feeds contain scant mention of an event that has cut short four young lives, in an age when superficial sadness gushes at the breakup of “B” level celebrities.

The news isn’t the actual shooting or the deaths; the news is that we have grown so accepting of the violence.

Just hours after finishing this column, I will go to teach confirmation to teenagers much like the kids who were targeted in the Tuesday, Nov. 30, shooting. Some are athletes; some artists. All are kids who are so used to the possibility of violence erupting around them at any point, that this isn’t shocking to them anymore.

It’s highly likely not a one of the confirmands will bring up the school shooting at class because they’ve become so adjusted to events like this. It’s just part of their lives. That thought makes the father and pastor in me ache. How is that possible?

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How have we become so immune to the violence and how badly we’ve failed our kids? We now have sides that are so entrenched over the issue of gun violence in America, that the vast majority of reasonable people who find themselves uncomfortably in the middle feel there is no way through. After all, I’m just one person. What difference can I make?

Well, I suggest our way through is the same way that has existed for 2,000 years. It is Advent, after all, and we Christians tell ourselves that we look to the light known as Jesus Christ for hope. Coincidentally, our Jewish friends are also currently celebrating Hanukkah, the season of light. And so many other faiths have similar beliefs as well.

It’s apparent that we cannot count on either of the entrenched political sides to move this conversation forward. But I am confident that if we each touched individual lives on a daily basis as Jesus did, we’d find ourselves making progress. Don’t forget, that while Jesus would inspire the worldwide movement of Christianity, he did it through one act of love at a time. A healing here. A kind word there. A message of hope spread one seed at a time.

Matthew 17:20 has become the bedrock of my ministry: “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Even in hopelessness, it only takes one act of love to change a life. And it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to commit that act of love. And then maybe, just maybe, we’ll find a way through to a time when school shootings aren’t commonplace anymore.

Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a Forum Communications Co.-owned company, is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at devlyn.brooks@forumcomm.com for comments and story ideas.

Related Topics: FAITH
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