Monday, January 07, 2008

Reflections on Tonight's Starbucks Gathering-Amish Grace

Tonight we started back our Starbucks group after taking the holidays off. We started a new book, Amish Grace. Wow, it really is a great book that generates a lot of thinking and discussion. It tells the national news story of the gunman who went into an Amish schoolhouse and murdered five children and critically wounded five others, then committing suicide.

When the oldest Amish girl, age thirteen, figured out that he was planning on killing them, she tried to protect the other children. She told the gunman, "Shoot me first."

As the father of two daughters, I choked up while reading this. It also made me think about Christ, who died for us, seeking to protect us from our own sin and from Satan's clutches.

Why would someone go into one of our most "sacred" places--an Amish school--and kill children? The Amish are opposed to violence. School are supposed to be safe places, with fingerpaintings, chalkboards, and laugther. Besides the sickness of mind, it seems that this must be in part due to the notoriety that is involved in something this shocking. In our 24 hour cable news cycle with media saturation, this act is sure to gain attention.

We also talked about the Amish way of life. The Amish have diversity, but they have some things in common. They are communal. They help one another. They have a slower pace of life. They are non violent. And of course, they believe that they must forgive, even someone who comes in and kills their children.

Most everyone tonight agreed that a slower pace of life would be attractive. Technology promises to make our lives simpler and easier. But in reality, it increases our pace. We are constantly on call and can work around the clock. Why is it that I cannot imagine life without my laptop? We send messages and we and others expect a return message within hours, if not minutes. We apologize for waiting a day or two. A week is an eternity. Are we made to live live at this pace? Coffee is the drug of choice for American Christians.

I have to admit, I am starting to feel the stress right now. I'm seeking to finish well, training people to take my place and responsibilities, continuing to try to set up Bible studies, praying with people, attending funerals, visiting hospitals, doing Strengths and Spiritual gifts assessments, helping people find connections, and preaching and teaching. I want to try to shore up and have continue as many things as possible after I leave. There is a committed core that very much believes in our direction. In fact, I was talking with one of these committed core tonight after our Starbucks gathering. She wanted to make sure that life groups were geared so that she could invite her non-Christian friends and they would feel welcome. God bless her! I told her, you must be one of the ones to carry on this legacy. And I suggested a group to hook up with that was very much oriented towards making non-Christians welcome.

We are also working on getting our house up for sale. And looking at new houses. And planning for and working on things already for our upcoming ministry in Texas. It is a busy time, and something probably will have to give soon. I have either the blessing or the curse of working however hard and long to get the job done. The problem is, sometimes there is more to get done than there is time. Please pray that I have enough faith in God to trust that he will find others to do what I cannot do.

Do you remember the Amish shooting? Could you forgive someone who shot and killed your son or daughter?