February 25, 2018: Wrestling with… Gun Violence in America

Posted on : Feb 22nd, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

So many have shared their feelings of grief and hopelessness regarding the High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.  It is indeed horrible.  What is even more sickening is that these mass killings just continue to happen.  This time, it’s another school shooting.

I know personally from my years of serving as a Pastor, that the most intense experience of grief that anyone ever experiences is over the death of a child.  In grief counseling there is an index that ranges from “natural death” to violent death.  Not surprisingly, violent death is much harder to accept than natural death.  The ultimate agony is the violent death of a child, or shall I say your child.

This Sunday we continue our Lenten Theme of wrestling with our own demons.  Last week we focused on addiction.  This Sunday, it will be Gun Violence in America.

While we as a nation grieve the violent deaths of the teachers and students who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there is also a spiritual issue involved in Gun Violence in America.   Rev. Matt Crebbin, minister of Newtown Congregational Church in Newtown, CT, says “As Christians, this really isn’t a Second Amendment issue, it is a Second Commandment crisis.  In the second commandment we are told not to worship false idols.  In America over the last 20-30 years we have created an idol of the gun.”

Is gun violence in America a hopeless situation?  There is an insightful biblical story told by the prophet Jeremiah that relates to our current situation.  The main character in the story is Rachel, who is one of Jacob’s wives.  She is one of the matriarchs of Abraham and Sarah’s family.  Jeremiah proclaims:

A voice is heard in Ramah,

lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;

she refuses to be comforted for her children,

because they are no more.

That’s a pretty gruesome story. But Jeremiah is also the prophet who foretells of a new time in Israel’s life, a time in which the community is restored to wholeness.  Getting from Rachel’s inability to be comforted because her children “are no more,” to a restored community takes a lot of prophetic work.  And Jeremiah isn’t afraid to say what needs to be done.  A contemporary example of what Jeremiah proclaimed can be found in this press release:

The United Church of Christ, as one of 50 faith groups making up the national coalition, Faiths United Against Gun Violence, has long been committed to advocacy and organizing around responsible gun legislation. Faiths United, in tandem with the efforts of the young people (from Parkland, Fl), is working for change and is calling on all faith organizations, denominations, and groups to join in. A group statement issued Friday reads, “We firmly believe that in the face of gun violence, the invocation of ‘thoughts and prayers’ without action is sacrilege. The job of people of faith—especially those legislators who profess faith—is not to offer empty words. Our faiths call us to transformative action that heals our society.”

On Monday Faiths United launched a social media campaign #PrayerAndPolicy to encourage faith communities to pray, and to also take action. “We engage in advocacy and organizing, seeking legislative and societal change that will transform the reality of ’93 gun deaths daily.'”

This Sunday we will continue our Lenten Journey as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (literally), to find Hope for the Restoration of our country and our lives.

Blessings,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Jeremiah 31:15-18

 

Thus says our God:

A voice is heard in Ramah,

    lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;

    she refuses to be comforted for her children,

    because they are no more.

 

Thus says our God:

Keep your voice from weeping,

    and your eyes from tears;

for there is a reward for your work,

    they shall come back from the land of the enemy;

there is hope for your future,

    your children shall come back to their own country

says our God.

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