Yet another tragic and grotesquely violent mass killing; what are Christians to do?
I’m writing this as I ponder many of the conversations that I’ve had this week about the recent – shall we say, the latest – tragic violence that’s been brought to us in vivid color via our TV’s and electronic devices, the shooting this past Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And this one hits home: violence wrought against innocent worshippers, many of them children, shot through the head by a man with with a semi-automatic rifle and a black kevlar vest.
Many of those conversations I had this week involved opinions on gun control; many expressed despair over whether our nation will continue to tolerate such heart-breaking violence and fail to respond with any meaningful restrictions on the sort of guns that kill masses of people so easily. Although I did not speak to anyone defending the 2nd Amendment as a reason not to take action, I know there are some Christians who take this position. Some others of our members spoke of how this event rekindles the sort of fear many experienced when an unbidden visitor recently interrupted the sermon during worship, claiming to be mentally ill; it was a hoax, but kicked up a lot of dust for us, and surely many must have thought that those worshippers could have been us; they could have been any Christian worshipping in any congregation on Sunday. One parishioner urged me to reach the congregation with some word about this latest tragedy, to provide comfort and spur conversation.
I’m a big fan of not saying what others have said much more eloquently than I could. And so I would urge you to read the statement issued by the Stated Clerk of our Presbyterian Church (USA) – J. Herbert Nelson II. His words would mirror my own sentiments, and provide some useful background on the witness of the church regarding gun violence. His words, “It is long past time for such a national conversation to commence,” call us not only to comfort ourselves, quell our fears – but most importantly to take action.
This is a time for faithful Christians to do something – anything – to respond. As you know, I am very big fan of human conscience: we read scripture, we examine our conscience, and we act, respecting that each one’s conscience may not indicate the same truth. But we converse, and we act. My job is not to tell you how to act; my job is to get you to read the book, and spur us all to conversation about what faithful people ought to do.
So hear this as an invitation – to reflect on scripture, and to act – and to urge others to act. What should faithful Christians do in the aftermath of this latest tragedy? What is God calling us, here in Lawrenceville, to do?
I welcome your comments to me personally, or much better – in the comments section below.