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The Rev. Dr. Debra Samuelson The Rev. Dr. Debra Samuelson

The Rev. Dr. Debra Samuelson is the senior pastor of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Minneapolis, MN.

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Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Minneapolis, MN

In the Name of Jesus

June 16, 2009

The funeral is over.  The protestors are gone.  The clinic is closed - forever.  The reporters have disappeared to other, late-breaking news stories, and the country's attention has followed the reporters.

But for Jeanne Tiller, the reality of how different her life is, and will be forever, is beginning to hit.

Two weeks ago on Pentecost Sunday, the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jeanne was sitting in the choir listening to the prelude - a light African Pentecost piece with handbells and percussion.  Her husband was ushering, welcoming people to worship to hear the life-giving Word of God.

She heard what sounded like a heavy book, dropping in the Sanctuary.  Minutes later another usher came to her, asking her to come quickly with him.  It was then that she learned her beloved had been shot - and killed - in church.

In an earlier blog I wondered how it was that the church I found to be loving and caring, with an authentic and genuine concern for justice, could be seen by others as judgmental and hypocritical.

I clearly heard a response to my own question on Pentecost Sunday.  "In the name of Jesus" Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed - in worship, an unconscionable act of violence.  The country has moved on from this tragedy, but this violence continues to haunt me.

In the midst of the lingering tragedy, the community of believers continues to come together as the one body of Christ to support one another and to hear the life-giving Word of God .  Our Bishop Mark S. Hanson, presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wrote an immediate response to the tragedy: "...In the wake of his death we pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort his family and all who mourn.  We pray for the courage to be peacemakers, rejecting violence as a means of resolving differences. We trust God's promise that neither death nor life nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)...Today we cry out "Lord have mercy!' And we are so bold to proclaim and believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25)"

Gandhi once said, "Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

 I do not understand killing in the name of Jesus.  I do, however, understand the importance of community, praying for one another and comforting one another in the name of Jesus.  I do understand praying for the courage to reject "violence as a means of resolving differences" in the name of Jesus. 


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