June 15, 2016,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

Several days have now passed since the killing of 49 people in Orlando. At this writing 27 others are in the hospital trying to recover from their wounds. This has been done in the name of ISIS and Islamic terrorism. The killer was born in America, and in his twisted mind thought he should kill as many LGBT people as possible. I am currently taking some time away from the Diocese of Eau Claire. I am near Orlando. There is pain and mourning in this community.

It is natural to seek solutions to prevent a recurrence of this kind of terror. Among the proposals are: We need to eradicate Islamic terrorists. We need to get guns out of our society, We need to gag the press and media who fan the flames in the name of increasing ratings. Beyond the possible solutions, I find myself asking what would Jesus say or do?

There was plenty of violence around Jesus. The Roman army and Herod’s soldiers could always inflict harm. Jesus’ in sharing the Gospel frequently provoked people. Violence could follow. The killing of Jesus by nailing him on the Cross was state sponsored terrorism.

At its most basic level I find it hard to understand why people deliberately kill others. Even as a military chaplain when conducting the funerals of those killed by enemy soldiers or insurgents, I found myself saying, “This is different. This person would be alive today if not for the deliberate intent of someone else to kill in the name of a cause. Why does it seem so easy for those in power to forfeit the lives of others?”

The Orlando killings remind me of how quickly life with its joys and happiness can turn to violence and death. As Christians there is only one certainty. As Jesus was raised from the dead, so we will be raised. There is a new life that awaits us regardless of how we die. God is faithful. In the end this is God’s world, and he provides for his people. This is our heritage and something no killer or government or extreme group can take from us. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,