Tag Archives: Gun violence

Stop Praying to End Gun Violence

Once again, sadly, righteously angry, from Feb 14, 2018, this time remembering families and victims at Santa Fe High School.

Ash Wednesday evening and what we now know is that 17 young people have been murdered by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.  Many more are injured and possibly more will succumb.  Politicians who robotically spout their “prayers and thoughts” are with victims hide behind prayer and religion while their hands take money from the NRA. Bloody hands!  Bloody politics.  Stop praying to end gun violence, Congresspersons. We didn’t send you to Washington to pray nor to instruct we who pray in our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples about prayer. We sent you to legislate and protect your citizens.  Stop praying to end gun violence and start legislating sensible gun control laws! We who take religion seriously deny you the use of piety to hide your inept and callous disregard of our children and young people, our fellow citizens.

This past October,  I preached a sermon entitled, “We Need To Talk About Gun Violence.” If you search inside this site for “guns,” you will see over a dozen entries devoted to this topic. After years and years of massacres the only conclusion we can rationally make is, our culture is depraved. The level of depravity is stupefying and it permeates every level of our culture.  In this season of Lent, let us ponder this reality, seek God’s redemption in our own lives and let us work side by side with those who want to end this scourge of gun violence in our country.

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Blood Money and the NRA

First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

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Another mass shooting in America.  The time to talk is now.  The time for action to remove assault rifles off of our streets is now.  Men, women, children in a church–slaughtered by an alienated male (and let us not feign offense, most of these assaults are carried out by males.  We need to talk about anger management with boys, starting in elementary school).  Enough of the NRA lies and misleading, ideological nonsense.  Guns really do kill people and assault weapons make a lone gunman an army of one.  Christians, stop giving your money to the NRA and ask your congressperson to stop taking it.  It is blood money.

Army Ten Miler, The Wharf, and Worship

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Coming in the Fall of 2018, our new sanctuary

This Sunday morning, October 8th, is the Army Ten Miler race.  Click here for a map so you can prepare your travel plans into the District.

This coming week, The Wharf has its formal opening and there will be multiple activities and opportunities to see and experience the new SW.  On Sunday October 15th at 4 pm Pastor Bledsoe will participate in a blessing of the Wharf along with other SW clergy.  Our own Lauren White will begin the service as she sings Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna’ Come.   Join us on the District Pier.

The center of our week is worship.  Please join us at 10 am each Sunday at Jefferson Middle School Academy in the school auditorium.  Pastor Bledsoe will be addressing our nation’s gun violence with reference to the assasination of President James Garfield.

Las Vegas and the Hollow Center of a Very Sick Society

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.

 

 

Again: Race & Violence in America–A Compilation of Sorrow

Iterum

Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.

Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy

Terence Crutcher.

How many times must we turn to one another and ask that the violence stop?  Race and violence in America is a problem. That is an understatement.  Gun violence continues to strike at the heart of our nation and yet, the idol worshippers of Moloch insist on feeding our children and their future to the Gun god.  Lay down your sword. Do not give your allegiance or your hearts to those who divide, hate and insist on violence.  There is no way to peace, peace is the way as the Fellowship of Reconciliation chants it.  Below is a compilation of statements made over the last few years that speak to these issues.

Open Letter to White Christians

The Mocking of Christ

Guns + Hatred in America

The Scourge of Gun Violence

Defying Injustice, Speaking Truth

Ferguson

Orlando

Shame on Jerry Falwell

Charleston

Baltimore

McKinney, Texas

Paris

Mourning Brooklyn Police Officers

Mr. Beck & Some Lives Matter

Order the Flags at Half Staff

Refuge in a Profanely Violent World

The State of Race in America

The Conscience of the Nation Must Be Roused

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

~Frederick Douglass, 1852, “July 4th?”

Dallas Police Officers

Michael Krol
Brent Thompson
Patrick Zamarripa

Michael Smith

Lorne Ahrens

Our nation is in the grip of madness, a violence stoked by a variety of groups and individuals from right wing radio talk show hosts to hate groups.  Our Congress refuses to act while the citizens of this country are armed to the teeth.  Legislation is important.  Community policing is important. As, or more important, is a change of heart, what the bible calls repentance.  As we mourn yet more lives taken from their families and friends, we pray that a spiritual awakening ensues and we turn from violence as a solution to our differences and our problems.  Christ have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

The Scourge of Gun Violence

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.

Advent Hope and Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath

Riverside Baptist Church joined in the national effort of Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath in this Advent Season of hope. We intentionally and intensely joined hope with our alarm at the number of mass shootings and gun homicides in our nation. Be sure to listen to Pastor Bledsoe’s sermon in response to this issue entitled, Song of Despair, Song of Hope.  Visit the National Gun Violence collaborative page promoted by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.  There is an array of resources available there.

Finally, take time to read and to pray Deacon Terryn Nelson’s prayer offered in worship today after she read the names of those Christian souls whose lives were cruelly ended at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

A Prayer for the Prevention of Gun Violence

By Deacon Terryn Nelson in worship at Riverside Baptist Church, Washington DC

 O God of life, Creator of the universe, Sustainer of all:

We come before you in sorrow and anger at the killing on our streets and in our schools, workplaces and houses of worship.

We come in repentance at our own participation in the culture of violence in our land.

We come in hope borne of our past victories over injustice, asking for strength and clarity and fortitude, that we might bring about transformation in our laws, in the ways we resolve conflict and address fear, in our tolerance for violence, in the hearts of our leaders and our fellow Americans.

May we become a people who put our trust in You, not in our weapons. By your mighty power, and in your overwhelming love, renew our vision for peace and safety in our land, beginning with us today, we pray.

Amen

Something Is Terribly Wrong. Advent First Sunday.

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.

The Mocking of the Christ: Guns, Pontifical Symbols and Betrayal

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Friday rain.  With a week-end of more rain and the deluge of the wicked and the lost is upon us. First in slow drizzle and a myriad of betrayals.  The drip, drip, dripping of half-truths and lies until soaked and chilled we are.  Defiled and chilled.

You would be hard pressed to find an institution more intensely focused on symbols than the Roman Catholic Church.  Its liturgy is a tapestry of symbols, ornate, beautiful, compelling, richly textured by all five senses.  Hence, it is inconceivable that the pontiff did not know with whom he met and embraced in the person of Kim Davis. She is a symbol for the denial of human rights to Gay persons as Gov. George Wallace was a symbol of denial to full citizenship to African-Americans.  In 1963, Gov. Wallace stood at the entrance of the University of Alabama, defying the federal government’s order to move and allow Black students entrance into the university.  He refused and like Kim Davis, asserted legal arguments for defying the federal government’s order.  Was his act an act of conscience? of course it was and like Kim Davis’ act of conscience, a misguided and corrupted conscience.  That the pontiff met her in secret alerts us to the fact that he knew what she represents.  Can you imagine the pontiff meeting with George Wallace soon after his blocking the school house door and offering the excuse that he meets with a lot of people?  Please.  This kind of excuse is an insult to our intelligence.

Once again we are subjected to the vile news that a man with a gun has shot down ten people and wounded tens of others.  He apparently took glee in singling out Christians to kill.  And yet, the Christian Right, the NRA and just good ole patriotic Americans feel no pang of conscience when something like this happens. We are defiled and chilled.  This is The Mocking of Christ, as depicted by the Fifteenth Century artist, Matthias Grünewald.  Look at who carries out this mockery in that painting. They are upright citizens, they are good old boys, they are the upright religious brigades.  How awful.  How shameful.

I have no political stratagem to offer. Just a lament and cry for God’s mercy in our lives and in our world.  Today, find time to listen to a Kyrie.  Get alone in a quiet place and pray.  For we are a corrupted people whose hearts, like a branch infested by insects, are hollowed out.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.