If you have been disturbed to the point of tears these past days, you are not alone. Words are inadequate to express my outpouring of grief and anger at the consistent horror of preventable gun deaths.

The question so many people – including myself – are asking is “how can this get better?”  No one wants to live in a world where going to the grocery store, worship, and – horrifically – elementary school, makes you vulnerable to such violence. But what power do we have to change it?

This Sunday, we will recall Jesus’ Ascension. That’s the day Jesus physically left Earth. He promised his disciples would receive God’s power. They weren’t so sure. How could they keep his ministry going? Proclaim the good news of forgiveness and change? Trust life beyond death? Live in a community of love? They could do it because God gave them each other and the Holy Spirit.

I will preach on the need for the church – us – to remember and claim the Spirit power that Jesus promised. 

The church receives the Holy Spirit’s power through prayer and song, scripture and sacrament, gathering and lamenting. Through the Spirit, we remember who we are and who God is. We discover our tears can become rivers that lead to life. We become empowered.

The Spirit’s power activates the church through hopeful commitment over time. Choosing love. Challenging injustice. Confessing our own sin. Trusting forgiveness. Changing.

Even though so much else is weighing on our spirits, after worship we will have the long-planned commemoration of George Floyd’s murder and the movement for racial justice that followed. Why?  Because our justice system and society are still plagued by racial inequality. Two years ago, we committed to putting our church’s efforts toward antiracism. That commitment remains.

At the same time, many of us are distraught by the recent shootings and need to express our communal sorrow. So as we gather around our beautiful mural we will also make space to grieve those who have died from gun violence, and lament whatever else is on your heart.

Our grief helps us know this is not the world as God intended. Our anger can fuel holy change. In our lament, the Holy Spirit’s fire is kindled.

Come to church to be reminded that God’s Spirit is still powerfully and present in you.  Gather as a community who cries, yes, but who refuses to let violence and death win the day.  It is still Easter. Jesus is risen. Come Holy Spirit, come.