"We want more than thoughts and prayers.” I read this comment over and over during this last week, as we as a nation had to endure yet another mass shooting. Those who said it did so with sarcasm and dismissal towards the idea of a benevolent God. What reply can the faith community give in the face of such a statement as incidents like Parkland, Florida, continue to arise and dominate the public consciousness?
Vigilance and active compassion must be our response. Our words no longer outweigh our actions as people of faith. We live in a time of ever-increasing apathy, thanks to the brutal truth we see roll across our television and phone screens every day. As Christians, we must rise up in our communities and fight off the advances of apathy with passionate action.
All across Missoula, there are ways to give of ourselves to better our community. Agencies like Family Promise, Union Gospel Mission and the YWCA are always in need of help in their efforts to alleviate suffering. Our schools are full of kids who are struggling academically simply because they have no grownups who can give them the time they need to understand the assignment put in front of them. An hour out of your time each week sitting one-on-one with a child in their classroom could make the difference in his or her future.
While I serve as a chaplain for the Missoula Police Department, I know that many of our other first responders lack dedicated people to fill similar roles. Our fire department and local Highway Patrol office currently don’t have chaplains to serve their dedicated public servants.
There is no shortage of ways to volunteer in a worthy capacity here in Missoula, but as long as apathy continues to dominate our culture, those opportunities will lack sufficient help.
While I have lifted my prayers in the wake of recent tragedies, as I am sure that you have as well, let’s remember that hope can still overcome hopelessness. Even if the idea of overcoming our growing sense of national indifference seems impossible, let’s not forget the inspiration that St. Francis of Assisi shared so long ago: “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”