upper room daily devotions

Friday, December 14, 2012

Into Deeper Darkness: Shooting in Newtown

I just wrote this on our church's facebook page: "Just a few hours after we posted a joyful message that 35 of our kids will be singing in worship on Sunday, the nation mourns, once again, over the senseless and brutal deaths of children, this time in Conn. QAUMC mourns with deep sorrow over the deaths of the 20 children in Newtown. We pray for the children who escaped death but not a lifelong scarring. We pray for their families and their community. And, we pray for our nation, which has yet to learn how to talk sensibly about violence, safety, and community."

On The Huffington Post, about the fifth story down is "White House: Today Not the Day for Gun Control," but if one scrolls down just a few stories, Hark!, there is a story on gun control.

It's hard not to politicize situations like this, and, indeed, as we say after every national tragedy, we must find a way to deal with guns in the hands of angry, mentally ill, disenfranchised, broken people. My stand on this would probably surprise many. However, today is not the day for this debate. Today is a day to mourn.

I know many of my liberal friends respond, "If not today, when?" While I understand their point, which recognzies the fickle and transitory nature of American emotional convictions, this is still a heartless position to take. Today children are dead. It is okay to stop the political bickering, to set aside NRA affiliation or opposition, to leave behind language like "fascism," "anarchy," "socialism," and phrases like "trying to destroy America" and let this community, these families, and our nation mourn. Precious souls were lost to this world today. Future moms and dads, singers, teachers, artists, insurance salespeople, burger flippers, check-out clerks.

I know many of my conservative friends are already trotting out the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" trope. Don't. It is equally heartless and quite indefensible. Let it go today. In the days and weeks to come, you may need to hone your arguments. Stay silent on this day.

Even as we as Christians are beginning to turn from the deep darkness of Advent toward the beautiful light of Christmas, we must slow our turn and sit in the deep darkness of this day, recognizing that many will not make this turn at all this year. Many will sit in darkness for a long time to come. Those of us privileged not to be directly affected by these deaths are commissioned with a holy task of holding the light for those who cannot touch it, see it, or experience this year. It is up to us to hold up this light even higher, to sing even louder, to act with more compassion, and to tirelessly and relentlessly seek justice and serve as peacemakers in a world filled with too much tragedy, loss, despair, and violence. If we believe in the Prince of Peace, if we believe that we are to be his body in the world today, we have holy work to do. Let us not bind this work with the strictures of partisanship, but be freed by the gospel to seek God's peace on behalf of those whose hearts are so broken and torn that not only can they not seek it but they cannot even dream of it.

Today, Advent became darker. We mourn. I pledge myself to allow those who need to mourn the space to do it. And, I pledge myself to be a seeker of peace - not just in this season, but in the seasons to come. Blessed be the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World, Hope of hope.

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