From: Rich Carlson
Date: September 8, 2020
Subject: It's September 8; Good Morning Union

“Fix your minds on things above, not on earthly things…” Colossians 3:2

As a volunteer chaplain for the Lincoln Police Department for the past 35 years I am this morning still struggling with the death of officer Mario Herrera yesterday morning. After an almost two-week battle from injuries suffered in the act of apprehending the primary suspect in a homicide earlier this summer, my friend and associate Mario lost this battle leaving a wife and four children behind.

As a chaplain at Union College, I spent last night sitting beside a former student as his wife was dying.

I’m not here to politicize or patronize any of this; I am just grieving over another act of violence in a world going mad, with often times innocent people the victims, and reassessing the lack of answers as one faces death.

I can’t stop evil; only God is able to do that, and He will when He reaches the place where He can safely say, “Enough is enough, I given you all enough time and you have given Me enough evidence that you have decided who’s side you are on,” and then, according to Revelation He will put a stop to sin and its consequences once and for all.

In the meantime, every day someone grieves for the loss of a loved one, a citizen, or in my case yesterday, a cop and a dear friend. Mario’s death hit me hard because I knew him and had worked cases with him as he tried to keep Lincoln safe and I tried to offer support to hurting people whoever they were. Mario lost his life doing just that. And my former student and his wife have lived lives so full of physical struggles that I am tempted to say were more than anyone deserves, much like my struggle with the story of Job.

I can’t stop evil, but I can stop being evil. I can’t stop injustice, but I can decide to treat all people justly. I can’t remove all hatred, but I can choose not to hate. Some battles are mine to win; others are not winnable in this world. I live in a wicked and sinful world and I am fighting a futile and frustrating battle if I think I can put an end to evil, wickedness, poverty, pain and death. That won’t happen until Jesus comes. I don’t know that God called me to eradicate poverty; He even said, “The poor you will have with you always,” but He did call me to feed the poor. I don’t know that He called me to fix the corruption in government or wherever, but He did call me to focus on the kingdom and not this world. The former usually causes me to blame someone else without understanding the full scope of their decisions; the latter gives me a chance to demonstrate the love of Jesus. I have to live in this world but if I expend my energies in trying to fix the world I’ll lose because there are too many pieces and by human attempts it’s futile. The only thing that is “systemic” is sin; everything else that is evil is a result of that.

He has not called me to fix the world but to focus on the only solution to all the evil in this world- Jesus; His coming; His glory; His kingdom. He’ll fix the sinful system, I am called to care for the hurting, the downcast, the mistreated, and show them hope, not in this world but in Jesus.

Thanks for letting me grieve. My friend Mario would never want to be called a hero or be a poster child for any movement; he’s just one more illustration that I live in a sinful world and the ONLY solution is Jesus. And my former student prayed with courage last night as he was saying good bye to his wife, with full assurance that Jesus is still coming and will put an end to all this. My hope, Mario’s family’s hope, my former student’s hope, is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; not on world peace, not on justice for all, not on fixing all the problems of this world, not on the unfairness of life. I am called to focus on Jesus allowing that all consuming focus to guide me in offering peace to whomever I meet, by treating all people justly, and taking my eyes off the problems and fixing them on Jesus, by “mourning with those that mourn.” THAT is the hope that I offer to everyone I can so in a world consumed by sin and its consequences, I can point them not to fixing the sin but to focusing on Jesus. That is the hope I offered to Mario’s family the night he was shot and I went to pray with them at the hospital; that’s the same hope I offered them last night at the prayer vigil at their church; that’s the same hope we talked about beside that Hospice bedside last night with my former student; and that’s the same hope I offer to you, my school family, as we seek to unite and unify our campus, not around fixing the world but around focusing on Jesus.

Have a better day than I had yesterday, but a good day today, as I am going to have, as we all learn where our hope and our focus needs to be. Love you all,

Pastor Rich


PS        If you chose a pen pal from Chuuk last Friday night you can bring you letters to Campus Ministries and we’ll mail them for you. If you missed this opportunity and would like to make a little child on Chuuk very happy then stop by or contact one of our SM team (Madi, Elizabeth, Carrie or Janelle) and we’ll connect you.


PPS      Christ on Demand 7:30pm. Because it’s supposed to rain we’re moving indoors to the Atrium. Bring your Bibles for this 30 minutes spiritual community builder.