First of all, the only point of a gun is to kill. That’s what it was designed for. And that’s what it does. Let’s not pretend they named it an assault rifle for some other reason. An assault is an act of violence done to someone. You can argue these weapons of death are for protection, but the only way a gun will protect you and your loved ones is if you are willing to pull the trigger and kill someone. God has made it pretty clear, that killing is a no-no.
Speaking of commandments…Our obsession with guns is nothing shy of idolatry. If you are offended by me saying that know that I don’t care. These facts offend me and ought to offend you. America has more civilian-owned guns than it has citizens. We are 25 times more likely to die by gunshot than any other country in the world. Gunshots are the leading cause of death in children.
As far as I know, we are the only country that supports an organization whose only job is to protect the gun industry. With the blood still fresh on the linoleum floor of Robb Elementary, the NRA is meeting to discuss new ways to spin the same old story. “It’s a mental health issue.” And my favorite, It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people.” We’ve heard their lies. And they don’t work anymore. The right to bear arms doesn’t give you the right to bear false witness. Another no-no of God’s.
Gun advocates want us to believe that the only way to protect ourselves from gun violence is to arm ourselves with more guns. That idiotic logic has helped produce more mass shootings this year than we’ve had days. It’s gotten so out of control that the phrase “gun violence” has become synonymous with the name America. It’s time to go in a new direction.
The 2nd Amendment isn’t a sacred document. Nor is it more important than any other amendment. Or our right to live, and to live a life with liberty to pursuit a life without the fear of getting shot.
So to every politician and voter who call themselves Christians, remember the word of Jesus who said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little children who believe in me, you’d be better off if a great millstone were fastened around your neck, and you were drowned in the sea.”
On this Memorial Day, I light this candle in honor every child of God whose light has been extinguished by a bullet. As it flickers, may it remind us all of the Eternal light for which they are now a part of.
Most humans don’t train for these kinds of events. When Joe Garcia got the news, his heart didn’t just break, it shattered. While putting flowers on his wife’s makeshift memorial, Joe suffered a fatal heart attack - leaving their four children instantly orphaned. Their names are: Cristian, José, Lyliana, and Alysandra.
There will be more names added to this list if something isn’t done to ensure everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But I fear nothing will.
Zara Rahim tweeted, it’s “Insane how the only notable change since Sandy Hook is that kids are now formally trained to hide, barricade doors, fight, or run for their lives. That was the solution. Too literally put the responsibility on kids to figure it out and wish them good luck.”
How many more must die before we say this is enough?
If you’re like me, then you’re probably suffering with compassion fatigue. Trying to keep up with the latest trauma is leaving even the most faithful feeling helpless and hopeless.
I’m tired of feeling this way. I’m tired of grieving for this insanity. The Bible doesn’t tell us not to grieve, but we must not grieve as those who have no hope. But this week, it doesn’t feel like that anymore.
As I searched the bible for a word of scripture that didn’t sound cliché, something jumped out at me that gave me a glimmer of hope. It was a name that I had never really noticed before. It’s from the lectionary reading for today. (Read Revelation 22:8-16 here.)
I think we can all agree with John who reminds us that the darkness is filled with evildoers, immoral people, murderers, liars. People who not only prey and kill innocent children but also people who turn a blind eye to it, or worse, gaslight it for political power.
No matter how bleak the world gets, no matter how dark the night becomes, we will always have light of Christ, our Morning Star, ushering in a new day.
For those of us who are in a dark place right now, here’s what I reminded everyone on Easter morning - God does some pretty amazing things in the dark. Between dusk and dawn, God is not asleep but hard at work. The psalmist writes, “He who keeps you will not slumber” (Ps. 121:1).
When we set our eyes upon the Morning Star, we are reassured that the darkness never wins. Death does not have the final word. God does.
In Christ, we know a new day is dawning, but not yet. This is the paradox of our faith. We long for a new heaven and new earth that Jesus promises. But until that day comes, we are called to navigate this dark space – by abiding in him, living out his word in the world.
That word is love. And that love is the light of Christ that shines upon us; exposing the darkness for what it really is. As the church, the very body of Christ, we must let his light shine brightly through us if we are to confront and conquer evil. This is no easy ask.
Thankfully, Jesus does not leave us helpless. He has armed with all the power of the Holy Spirit to tear down the systems of injustice, and destroy the idolatry of guns, power, and greed.
We have what it takes to demand sensible gun laws and to vote politicians out of office if they are unwilling to create those laws. We have what it takes to ensure every child has the chance to let their potential shine brightly. The same power that was given to Jesus himself has been give to us to transform a dark world into the loving light of God. But what good is that power if we only keep it to ourselves?
We can no longer stay silent, fearing the dark shadows. We must stand up and act out by shining the light of Christ on the real evils that are infecting our communities, our country, and this world.
If Easter has taught us anything, it’s that the night may rage for a time, but it will always succumb to the light. As it is written, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
During our time of suffering and pain, we are not alone. We have each other. And we always have the indwelling love of God with us. Whatever darkness you’re experiencing right now, I invite you to hold onto the truth that God is love, and such love is eternal. Just as love comes from God, so too does it return to God. When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except for the gift of love.
The million dollar question is how will you use that gift of love today? How will you shine Christ’s light so brightly that people will be drawn to its warmth?
If you believe gun violence is a mental health issue, then what will you do to make sure that people receive the health care they need. If you are tired and worn out from living in fear of gun violence, then what are you going to do to put an end to it? If you think the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is important for us as a nation, then what will you do to ensure that every life gets a chance to experience it fully?
Jesus says, “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me to repay according to everyone’s work.” What we do today, matters. In this sacred space of Anamesa, we must always remember that our actions, like Jesus’ own name, will echo throughout all time and space.
There is an eternity behind us. And an eternity ahead of us. But it’s here, in this moment, we expose the darkness for what it is by shining the light of Christ, our morning star, so that all of God’s children can live to see another day.
Inspired by a message by Bryan Chapell from The Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have to Preach: Help from Trusted Preachers for Tragic Times. Zondervan. Kindle Edition, 2011.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”