12/14/2015 4:00:14 PM
This month I wanted to share some thoughts on a variety of subjects.
There have been a lot of troubling news items over the past few weeks. The tragedy in Virginia is still very much on many people's minds, not just those directly affected. It seems to reflect the apparent growth in senseless violence in our world. Its very randomness calls to mind the acts of terror that some people live with daily, thinking of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Sudan for example. One thing that struck me early on was how some in the news media seemed eager to place blame on the faculty or the mental health system. While I certainly don't know all the details it seems to me this was a profoundly troubled young man. Trying to blame educators or counselors is not appropriate given current laws regarding involuntary treatment. We certainly need to continue to keep all these folks in our prayers, including the shooter's family and the campus police officers who had to respond.
A few weeks ago one of Pat's students was killed in gang crossfire at a birthday party in Salisbury. Some people crashed the party and an argument erupted between rival gangs. Like the tragedy in Virginia she had nothing to do with the circumstances - it was a senseless act that killed a young teen. It is important to know that those giving the party apparently had nothing to do with the gangs. In response the mayor of Salisbury is planning a community meeting in June to talk about gangs and related topics.
This morning I attended a meeting sponsored by the school system that sought to involve churches in working with schools. It grew out of that same concern. As some of you may be aware St. Marks in China Grove is using an endowment fund to offer tutoring to students at China Grove Elementary. If you have some thoughts about how we, as a congregation, might be able to support our children and community through the schools why not share those with me or with the Evangelism Committee or the Council. Gangs are not confined to big cities. Working together perhaps we can help make a difference in the lives of not only our own children but those throughout our community. One very important action that is already in place is the project by our Women of the ELCA to pray for children and schools.
Finally, as you probably know, I will be having surgery next week to repair an injury to my arm. This whole process has been a real learning experience. I first went to the doctor at least ten years ago about the problem with my arms and was told it was just a matter of being out of shape. (Though as Janet Parsons pointed out I could have said round is a shape!) Before getting the test results I had told many people I hoped I wouldn't have to have surgery but had no idea the doctor would tell me there was nothing they could do surgically to repair my right shoulder! (A reminder to be careful what you ask for?) At that point he ordered tests on my left shoulder and determined it was mildly damaged at this point and could be repaired which is the purpose of the surgery. One learning out of this is that shoulder structure runs in families since my mother, younger sister, and one younger brother have all had both shoulders repaired.
The thoughts that went through my mind are interesting. Initially I was pretty discouraged both with the doctors who had brushed it off and with myself; not to mention plans about camping and working in the garden. On reflection of course one becomes thankful that it was not worse and that there are things that can be done to ease pain as well as repair the other shoulder. There is also a real feeling of thankfulness for the doctors who believed what I said and were determined to find out what was wrong. That thankfulness multiplies with knowledge of the good health insurance the congregation provides and the availability of skilled surgeons.
There will be a period when I cannot drive but I hope that I will not be out of commission too long. (Some folks have said they will help me get to hospitals to see people if that is needed before I can drive.) The Rev. Gilmer Boggs will be preaching on the first Sunday after the surgery and Michael (as usual) will lead the service in Sloan Park. Hopefully I will be back in the pulpit for Pentecost Sunday. This will certainly be the most I have been away in a short time with a vacation week after Easter, the Confirmation retreat following that and now sick leave after being back for two weeks! I deeply appreciate your prayers, concern, and support.
In Christ's love and service, Pastor Joseph