<This went out today. I’ve made no secret that I have no love for guns. That conviction is ever-growing. Christians need to consider that perhaps, *perhaps,* faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, might call our desire to own hand guns and assault rifles into question…>
Another act of domestic terrorism has filled the news, filled our heads, and at this writing, hundreds of people who were enjoying life just hours ago are now filling the hospitals and, tragically, over 50 are already confirmed dead.
Our addiction to violence is a disease, and it is a sin.
I refused to tune into the news channels this morning, fearing that the children that live in my house might see the world they’re inheriting. They’re too young not to know how to be brave in the face of such madness. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too young.
St. Peter, in one of the moments when he spoke out of love and not fear, responded to Jesus in a time of perplexity, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of abundant life.” (John 6:68)
We don’t go to guns. We don’t go to violence. We don’t go to partisan bickering which all just becomes a distraction. The war of words rages while people die. Trite moralisms and vapid optimism will not do any of us any good today. And, when we go to Jesus, he doesn’t offer that. He offers true solace, he offers us the chance to confess, to forgive, to breathe, to mourn, and to re-center ourselves in peace rather than fear.
But, we must remember that, if we go to Jesus, if we seek refuge under those wings, Jesus will send us back out, too. It is not enough to pray for the victims of mass shootings, we must pray with our shoes on, prepared to work for justice and an end to this kind of violence, as Jesus calls us to in our baptism.
Walter Brueggemann, a prophet in our own time, has a book of prayers (Prayers for a Privileged People [Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2008]) that I find myself thumbing through when these mass shootings happen.
And, let me be honest: I have looked at it too much in my almost 10 years of ministry.
His prayer/poem “God’s Gift in the Midst of Violence” is one I offer to you here today. But pray it with your shoes on.
P.S. One immediate thing that you can do is donate blood at your local Red Cross. Click that link to find where your nearest donation center is. Blood donations will be needed!
God’s Gift in the Midst of Violence
The world trembles out of control.
The violence builds,
Some by terrorism,
Some by state greed,
Dressed up as policy,
Violence on every side.
You, in the midst of the out-of-control violence.
We confess you as steadfast, loyal, reliable,
But we wonder if you yourself are engaged
We confess you to be governor and ruler,
But we wonder if you manage.
We in the midst of out-of-control violence,
We in great faith
We in deep vocational call
We in our several anxieties.
We—alongside you—in the trembling.
This day we pray for freedom to move
Beyond fear to caring,
Beyond self to neighbor,
Beyond protection to growth.
That we may be a sign of steadfastness,
That anxiety may not win the day.
You are the one who said, “Do not be anxious.”
And now we submit to you.