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February 26 – Empty Chairs

1 Peter 3:8-12

Garfield the cat sees Odie at the window looking in. Garfield says, “Poor Odie. Locked outside in the cold. I can’t bear to see him like this. I’ve got to do something.” Garfield gets up, looks at Odie in the window and closes the curtain.

There was an unspeakable tragedy at an Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The following Sunday, I placed 21 chairs in front representing 19 young children and two gifted schoolteachers. Those empty chairs represented real people no longer in school or church or playing sports or teaching a child ever again.

Like Garfield, it’s tempting to close the curtain on controversial issues. Witnessing our faith, standing up for what is right, taking a stand is important. Easy to preach but far more difficult to practice. There are many good reasons: We fear rejection or ridicule. We are unsure of answering tough questions. 

1 Peter 3:15 Peter says: “Quietly trust yourself to Christ and if anybody asks why you believe, be ready to tell them in a gentle and respectful way.” 

When it comes to doing something about violence, churches are often just as divided as everyone. Will restricting guns stop the violence? Probably not. Will background checks? Not by itself. But gun restrictions combined with background checks combined with a more vigilant community? That can make a difference.

A man was brought to the hospital after a propane explosion. His face, hands and upper body were badly burned. He was brought in screaming from the pain. The medical staff moved quickly but what soothed him were the actions of a nurse. As she trimmed away his charred sin and applied bandages, she could have closed the curtain and done her job but instead, she quietly recited Scripture verses about God’s care and assurance. That nurse in one brief act did as much for the patient as the strongest of pain killers.

Peter said: “Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord and if anybody asks why, be ready to tell them and do it in a gentle and respectful way.,” 1. Trust God. 2. Be prepared. 3. Be gentle and respectful.

We are called to respond to 21 empty chairs pleading with us not to close the curtain. Do not let these 21 people die in vain. So, what will you do? What will we do? Trust God. Be prepared. Be gentle.

Prayer Challenge: How should we respond to the acts of violence all around us?