At a Loss

Contributing Writer
Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY

I am at a loss.
I’m at a loss for words.
I lack an explanation for the recent tragedies in this world and country. As a pastor, people often come to me looking for a response, but I confess to you… I don’t have answers. Instead, I have a lot of questions.
Who would do something like this? Why? How is it that we can’t seem to stop this destructive behavior? How close to home does violence have to hit before action happens? How close to Washington does it have to hit before action happens? Are we becoming numb? Is the media providing too much coverage? Was this terrorism? Is it mental illness? Can a law solve this?
I watch too much TV. More specifically, I watch too much news coverage. I’ve heard what they (MSNBC, FoxNews, Trump, Clinton, et al.) have to say. They all have answers. It’s terrorism. It’s a lack of gun control. It’s radical Islam. It’s mental illness. It’s the Democrats. It’s the Republicans. It’s too many guns! It’s too few guns!
To them, shootings that result in death can be answered by *this* and *that*. And yet, I wonder if it is that simple, why does it keep happening?
We want for shootings to be a terrorism issue or a Muslim issue or a gun issue or a mental health issue, because those can be solved. We can pass a law, we can restrict guns, we can build a database, or we can reintroduce asylums. What we don’t want is to admit that the real issue is bigger than those issues.
In our country, family values are falling apart. The American family is falling apart. Social media is destructive. Our government is dysfunctional. Our country is divided. Our politicians say what they have to say and do what they have to do to stay in office. The number of guns and the amount of ammo some people have in this country is insane. Simultaneously, the idea that our citizens shouldn’t have guns is also insane. Our educational system is failing. Our healthcare system is out of whack. We have lost common sense. We are no longer neighborly. We look for others to fix our problems.
In response to shootings we hope for reaction, when what we really need is action. We need you. We need me. We need our neighbors, our friends, and our co-workers. We need people who are willing to speak up – to stand up – to gather together and say, “Enough is enough.” We need community again. We need front porches and not back decks. We need to remember it is not enough to say, “Let’s make America great.” We need to WORK to make America great again. Instead of pretending like we have all the answers, we ought to confess our sins.
The church is currently in the season of Advent. Often times Advent seems all about getting ready for Christmas, but it really isn’t about the baby Jesus at all. We are preparing for the Lord’s return. As we prepare for the Advent of Christ, we confess our sins (that’s right, our participation in destructive behavior). We also walk humbly as we proclaim life and light.
Even if we are at a loss for words, we are not at a loss of hope.
Even if we do not have answers, we still have faith.

Stay in the Way,

This devotion is written in response to the many acts of violence that have happened in the past few weeks (Paris, Planned Parenthood in CO., San Bernardino, and the many others that didn’t merit media coverage).

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott’s past columns, please visit and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.