Like most Americans I woke this morning to the horrible news of the massacre in Las Vegas. More death at the hands of a man with a gun. The news was so shocking that I had trouble believing it. Maybe you felt that also.
A few minutes later I was surprised at my shock. Why be shocked when these violent events happen with regularity? A pastor friend posted this comment,
I want someone to explain why the right to bear arms is more important than the right to not be shot dead.
I would also love to have an answer to that question. As I contemplate this latest shooting I hear in my mind the prophet’s call, “How long?” How long will such violence terrorize and destroy? When will we as a people choose to lay down our arms? When will peace prevail? Will it ever in our lifetimes?
I saw a headline from someone’s opinion piece on today’s events. His opinion is that massacres such as this are “our price for freedom.” Really? Is this freedom? Or is it idolatry?
Idolatry may be thought of making a nice golden statue and worshiping such thing. We can believe that idolatry is an old concept from an old time. But I fear that far too many worship guns rather than God. While I don’t believe this applies to all gun owners, I’m frustrated that we hear very little from responsible gun owners. Instead we continue down the blood soaked road to better and more lethal weapons in the hands of murderers. It’s as if guns are valued more than life. That is idolatry. Will we ever repent?
Part of my sermon yesterday was about changed hearts. After every massacre I wonder, will this violence cause changed hearts? Will we now, finally, at least have a national discussion and research and change so that we can reduce the carnage?
At mid-morning, I saw the headline that the stock prices for gun manufacturers had increased 5% on the news of the massacre. Increased! Increased because in our national sickness we go out and buy more guns after such event. Lord have mercy. Will we ever change?
Many of the thoughts running through my head are angry thoughts. Frustrated thoughts. Intersperced are feelings of great sadness. Tears. For those who lost loved ones. For those who were injured. For those who were terrified as they ran for their lives. I wish I could be there for them. Hugging and holding hands. Listening to their stories, their grief, their pain. Comforting. Being present.
I’m not there. So I pray. I invite others to join me in prayer. I remember the promise of God’s love and God’s presence. I know that those who suffer don’t suffer alone.
This morning I went to my regular 6am exercise class. It was hard because I was weary. Then I went on my regular post-class run. It was hard because I was weary. I only went 3 miles. But as I returned to my car I saw the most amazingly beautiful early morning sun interacting with the clouds (I have no photo because I didn’t take my phone).
The clouds were blocking the sun. But its light was much more powerful. Glowing along the clouds edges, casting beams of radiant light to the ground. I was thankful for this reminder that the darkness of this world cannot overpower the light.
Then, when I arrived home I saw the long lines of those donating blood…an 8 hour wait they said. This too is light overpowering the darkness. This is hopeful. This is a reminder of the goodness in people. It is a reminder of our connectedness. It is a sign of hope.
So today we mourn. And I hope that tomorrow we, as a nation, choose to do something different.
Meanwhile we can take solace in the words that Jesus uttered from the cross as he was dying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Thankfully that forgiveness is for you and for me. May it empower us to change.