Like so many others who are baffled by Congress’ refusal to rally ‘round commonsense gun laws (which even the majority of gun owners agree are needful), I was saddened by the failure of Monday’s Senate vote to restrict assault weapons for those on terrorist watch lists. For the life of me I cannot understand who could possibly be against that. But doubtless there are some who see any gun law as a slippery slope, and so they dig in. Now as I write there is a sit-in going in the House, led by one of my all-time heroes, Georgia Representative John Lewis. Will anything good come of it? Sadly we have become accustomed to thinking it won’t. But our God is able to do the impossible, and I sense a sea change in the country following the Orlando murders. I cannot help but pray God is behind it.
It would be just like the God of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Jesus to use the senseless deaths of young gay Latinos to finally tip the nation toward a change. The heartbreak that happened here in 2007 didn’t do it. Neither did the slaughter of five and six-year- olds in Connecticut. That was the moment when I thought “Surely now, Lord.” But no, there was nothing. Then there was Charleston—in a church, and while it has not impacted gun laws, changes in the display of the Confederate flag have come, not all of which are wise, but I for one am not complaining. Now the murders of young people whom some think of as lepers—immigrants and gays!—seems to be inspiring action.
You have heard me say before that God is not coercive. Instead, God uses the helpless to bring about powerful change, represented most clearly by Jesus’ death on a cross. God was with Jesus in his death (whatever that means) and God was with the 49 who died in Orlando, too. It seems consistent with all I know that God would bring life out of the deaths of young people gathered to dance and relax in what for them was one of very few safe places—until it wasn’t.
Maybe I will wake tomorrow to discover that what is happening right now in the House has come to nothing, been belittled (doubtless) by some as a stunt and nothing more. The Psalmist warns us not to put our faith in princes. But I can’t help but think that God, not a bunch of politicians, is up to something, and I want to be part of it. So I will pray, pray, pray to be surprised, and hold on to hope in Christ Jesus, who taught us that his way of dying and rising is the Way, the Truth, and Life.
Scripture Readings for Sunday, June 26: Luke 11:1-13
The prayer list can be found here.