First of all. The church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas has left good folks dead, families and friends in unspeakable grief and a nation once again in mourning. Flags are again at half-staff. Many churches are on lock down and people are scratching their heads again, wondering ‘why?’
May the Christ who innocently suffered and died and who understands so completely such grief come to the side of the mourners and bring those who died into his eternal bosom of peace. This is first and foremost on our hearts.
But there is a concurrent and redundant issue. Mr. Trump proclaims this a mental health problem and the man as deranged. This, according to his expert knowledge. Who can question him? I can. Any person on the one hand who slaughters innocent men and women and children in church is in some sense ‘deranged’. On the other hand the man’s mental status did not prevent him from knowing how to secure and use a powerful semi automatic weapon to take these precious lives.
I’ll tell you what I think is deranged in the sense of being disturbed and irrational. Deranged is a country and lawmakers that believe the semi automatic guns somehow fall under the second amendment rights. That’s absurd and unfathomable. Making such weapons available to deranged persons or anyone else who could at any given moment become deranged is beyond my comprehension for a civilized nation that wants her people to be safe.
The President says this isn’t a gun situation. Bull…. This man could not have done the unspeakable horror he did with a pistol. The availability of semi automatic weapons poses a grave danger to our way of life and if congress won’t do something about it, maybe a national referendum would give the people of this country a hand in the decision making.
I am a pastor and as such I would want to know that my parishioners didn’t die in vain if their deaths address and change a serious problem in this country. That little Baptist church in Sutherlands and all those congregants have a special place not only in our hearts but also in the future of this country.
Why are these kinds of weapons available? To create a militia that can take on an evil nation? I guess RPGs should be available to the general public. Sorry, I digress.
How long will this go on and how may people will died before we as a nation realize that the availability of these assault rifles, used in most of the mass killings, needs to be abolished?
May God grant wisdom and grace to our nation because He may just hold us all accountable for these little ones whose lives have been so cruelly taken from those who love them so much.
If I were a pastor in that little community of Roseburg, Oregon or any community that is connected to the people there here is what I would want to say:
Let’s stay with Jesus for a while. Let’s not hurry on even to a sense of victory. The resurrection is muted. We just need to stay with Jesus. Look at his body, the blood, his tears. See his weakness on that cross. Don’t turn away with some easy answer to the senseless tragedy. No, stay with Jesus. Each one of these lives, these precious souls whose death has pierced their loved ones hearts, belongs to Jesus, the Jesus who suffers with each aching heart.
Don’t rush to change laws right now. Don’t rush to blame. Don’t rush to judgment. Just stay with Jesus.
Don’t rush to revenge. Leave that to the Lord. There was none of that on Good Friday. They just stayed with Jesus, cried with Jesus, and something in each of them died with Jesus just as something in all of us dies with these young men and women, their families and communities right now. They stood for Jesus. Jesus stands with them. Their hurt is his continuing pain. Don’t rush to find the end just yet. Believe right where you are, right where your heart breaks right not. If you need to doubt or rage against heaven, go ahead because heaven knows how to bear our doubt, disbelief or uncontrollable anger. Heaven has been here before.
Just stay with Jesus right now. That’s right. Where their blood poured out it is mingled with the blood of Jesus. That word ‘Jesus’ right now is the only word we can speak.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, ONLY A SUFFERING GOD CAN HELP NOW. May each of our hearts find a place where that suffering God can rest for a while.
Bonhoeffer has a book by this title and I tag along to him by saying that everything in this creation has come through Christ. Christ is the victim and the victor and he calls us to be his followers. Those folks in South Carolina, centered in Christ, have found the ability to grieve and grief deeply while they witness to God’s love in Christ through forgiveness. Few of us can understand their grief but those of us who do know it realize it that there is anger and sadness in the midst of anything else we are feeling. We are not naive but at the same time we are not unfaithful. We know the weakness of God in Christ and we know the defeat of death through Christ. Those families and faithful ones in Christ through their forgiveness and their celebration of life know weakness and strength.
The church is to experience both. We are to live with Christ and we are to die with Christ knowing all the while that we are in Christ and Christ in us and not even Satan and all his legions can stop God’s children from marching forward.
I pray that the light of AME Zion churches and those who stand with them will know that God’s grace is always sufficient as well as ultimately victorious.
P.S. Hopefully through it all our nation and we as individual believers will be sufficiently humble to hear God.