In the wake of Las Vegas I’ve come to the conclusion that the United States simply does not have the will to do anything about gun violence. This despite clear evidence that stricter guns laws lead to fewer gun-related deaths in every state that has passed them. It is helpful to recall that the majority of gun deaths are suicides, not homicides, and that the total number of gun-related deaths is on the decline. Events like Las Vega, thank God, are well outside the norm. Even so, we are numbed and frightened by the sheer scale of the madness unleashed for no discernable motive by one man, who for reasons we will probably never know opened a floodgate of sorrow.
We need not be hopeless, though; an antidote does exist. It is not one that will end unforeseeable acts of senseless violence, but it is real and it is open to each of us. It appears in the scripture for this Sunday, and throughout the texts of both testaments of the Bible. The antidote is life in the Realm of God, whose power lies in vulnerability instead of violence.
Conversation about God’s defenseless power is not easy. It does not meet our need for simplicity. That may well be why numbers of people flock to churches that announce “God has a reason” for senseless events, a terrible, misleading lie.
God was in Las Vegas, but not in order to be in control. Control is a form of human power, the kind of power the gunman wielded. God’s power is the power of weakness, even helplessness. God suffered alongside the dying and the wounded, and is suffering with the wounded and the mourning still as they struggle to go on. If that seems useless to you as the news from Las Vegas continues to roll in, try to remember that God’s defenseless power is the single most powerful force for change on earth. Nothing will ever defeat it. Nothing.
We harness that promise by living as God’s people, by living as covenant people who treat others as God does, and by seeing the world and all that we have as God’s gift. Count on it: soon we will begin to hear stores from the Realm of God as they unfolded in Las Vegas, stories in which this or that person risked and sacrificed to save another, stories of courage, of self-less love, and of the deaths that resulted from some of those choices.
Brothers and sisters, you really do have the option to live in God’s Realm, and choose every day what to serve: endless violence or its opposite: vulnerable, life-giving love.
Grace upon grace, Catherine
Scripture Readings: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46.