A Wesleyan Response to Tragic Events
By Steve Manskar
When I checked the news Monday morning I was shocked, saddened, and outraged by yet another senseless mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. This one is set apart from all the others because it is has the most fatalities and injuries ever.
The usual response is underway. Political leaders express shock, thank the brave first responders for their life-saving work, and send their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. This is followed by a moment of silence and saying “Now is not the time to talk about guns.” The message sent is that all we can, and should, do is send thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
As Christians in the Wesleyan tradition we are called by Christ to works of piety and works of mercy.
Our first response is to turn to God in prayer. Praying Psalms 13 and 42 is a good place to begin. At times like these we need to turn to God. We need to open our hearts to grace and follow Christ’s lead by listening for his guidance for how best to serve as his representatives in this broken, hurting world.
Praying for the dead and their families, the injured survivors, and first responders opens our hearts to grace that equips us for action. Prayer gives an opening for the Holy Spirit who leads us to acts of compassion and justice.
The Wesleyan tradition of balanced discipleship leads United Methodist congregations to become outposts of the coming reign of God. We represent the reign of God to the world when we witness to Jesus Christ in the world and follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
People who step into any local church, for any reason, experience Christ’s acceptance, love, and justice because we boldly proclaim Christ in all his offices: prophet, priest, and King.
Christ the prophet is revealed in Jesus’ life and teachings, contained in the sermon on the mount and the Great Commandments. He reveals God’s law of love and justice for the world. “Christ as prophet is the source of our restored awareness of God’s law. Through this awareness we are awakened to our sin, directed to Christ as Priest for pardoning assurance, and guided in the renewal of our nature into Christ-Likeness” (Randy Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology, 112).
Christ the Priest restores our relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins. His death on the cross sets us free from sin. “It is in and through Christ that we are each assured of the pardon of our sin, a pardon that initiates our restored relationship with God and that maintains us in that relationship” (Maddox, 111).
As the risen One whom death could not hold, Christ is King. “As King, Christ is the one who guides Christians in their process of renewal, thereby delivering them from the power of sin. And Christ as King will eventually deliver the whole creation from the very presence of sin, returning it to God the Father” (Maddox, 113).
Christians in the Wesleyan tradition respond to tragedy with works of piety (prayer & worship) and works of mercy (compassion & justice). We promise in the baptismal covenant to serve as Christ’s representatives in the world, according to the grace given to each of us. Wesleyan Christians strive to live as witnesses to Jesus Christ in the world and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- How does your congregation equip members to serve as Christ’s representatives in the World?
- How is Christ in all his offices, Prophet, Priest, and King, proclaimed in the congregation’s worship and mission?