Las Vegas now has its name listed amongst the other cities of massacres carried out by lone gunmen who, with but one weapon and a lot of ammunition, destroy a multitude of lives. I have written so often in blogs about this that I can see no point in repeating what I have said on those other occasions. Our society is very sick. We should be alarmed. We should be rational and logical about how we limit access to these hideous weapons. But we aren’t and we won’t. And at the center of that hollow problematic is a wicked disposition desperately in need of a remedy and redemption. Let me state that last sentence more clearly: the problem is deeply spiritual. The remedies are simply mechanical and legislative but there must be a will, an intention to do what must be done to safeguard our society.
As you cross the threshold to enter the world, do so with blessing on your lips. When you cross the threshold and re-enter your home, do with thanksgiving and gratitude in your heart. In the various decisions you make in a day—from how you greet someone to how you carry out your work—consider doing no harm and expanding the circle of friendship and kindness. Join a community of the Spirit so your and my life might be hallowed, not rendered hollow.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We remember the perished and wounded in Las Vegas.
Gun violence in America is a scourge. Had an invader killed as many of our citizens, we would be demanding a declaration of war from our Congress. Instead, we hear the NRA talk about the “right to carry and conceal” and our Congress cowardly shirk before the Gun sellers. Had a virus or plague killed as many, we would demand the CDC and other government agencies coordinate a multi-pronged effort to arrest the virus and find a vaccination. Instead, we are subjected to lies and half-truths about the Second Amendment.
It is not patriotic to stand by as fellow citizens are murdered and wounded.
It is immoral, even if it be legal, to sell assault weapons.
Jesus told Peter to put up his sword. Christians, stop supporting the blood soaked NRA. Start asking your congresspersons to pass sensible laws that register and control what can be sold. Gun shop owners, stop selling assault weapons. Put away your guns. We are reaping the whirlwind.
Exactly how much mayhem does one need to witness before concluding that something is terribly wrong? Daily headlines of extrajudicial killings of African-American citizens, war, mass migrations of persons fleeing from war, terrorist attacks in the name of God and the rude slander of persons by leading presidential contenders are enough to convince us that something is off balance. Right? But the fact is, Americans polarize into extremes and some, on the left, want to naively believe in the last superstition, progress (as Christopher Lasch wrote in his book, The True and Only Heaven). Or those on the right hunker down, double down and promote more violence as the solution to violence. It is a self-defeating proposition but logic is not a strong suit of the NRApocalyptic view of the world.
Enter the biblical narrative of Advent, which is to say, the coming of the Christ in our midst. This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. How much we need to hear this account again! The world is plunged into darkness. It is more than evident to anyone willing to put down their ideological playbook that human beings are sinners in need of a Redeemer. Don’t like the word “sin?” Try this: human beings are deeply alienated and in need of reconciliation. However we state the obvious, we would do well to begin our journey to a sanctuary of peace such is offered by our church. Not to the mall, clawing our way through crowds and the push-and-shove of consumer frenzy. Not to a party. But to the sanctuary of the Holy One who would speak to us again of peace and justice and a Redeemer.
See that field of shepherds? It is night. And it is night in more ways than one, for they are poor and live in the midst of a brutal Roman occupation. Set in the night sky is a star. That is a luminous symbol of Christ’s presence in our world as the dim tides of history and the inhumane plots of wicked persons blot out the light. The Gospel of John captures that scene in another way, saying, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (1:5)
This is the First Sunday of Advent. Let us take a step toward light, toward love and peace. ~See you Sunday.
Our hearts go out to the families of those callously gunned down in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. What a wicked act! Everyone is asking, of course, how does a person walk into a church (and the perpetrator of this crime apparently sat with them for an hour before murdering them) and then execute nine people of faith? That is exactly the question we should ask.
Human personality is collective, developmental and does not appear ready-made and complete. In other words, this young man drew his ideas from somewhere; someone or some people played a role in his life. Where did he learn to hate Black people? What on earth gave him the idea that murdering people was okay? These will be difficult questions to answer since the mind is also mercurial and despite even good influences, will bend toward the wicked. But one thing that is not difficult to answer is how he was able to purchase a gun in the United States. The NRA owns so many of our congresspersons, has acted as a ministry of propaganda for the arming of any and everyone and in the name of freedom has facilitated a process that makes these deadly weapons more easily available than drugs.
Indeed, guns + hatred in America is a drug. Faiths United to Prevent Handgun Violence reports : ”New research was just released showing that the licensing of all handgun purchasers in Connecticut has led to a 40% drop in gunhomicides in the state. This is just on the heels of last year’s study that showed a 25% increase in gunhomicides when Missouri repealed it’s requirement that handgun purchasers be licensed. Both studies ruled out other possible explanations for the changes in gun homicides.”
May a surge of effort arise out of churches and likeminded persons who are sick and tired of gunhomicides in this country. Let us work together to make handgun purchaser licensing a national priority. You can begin by visiting Tale of Two States and signing the resolution to legislate such a requirement. In the meanwhile, we will pray for Emmanuel AME. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.