Last year on December 14, my family was wrapped up in the memorial service for my brother, himself a victim of gun violence. Family from Oregon had arrived the day before. My youngest son and his family came in from Fresno. My parents had arrived the day they learned their son was gone. Sam and I arrived earlier in the week from Texas. We were all navigating the unchartered territory of grief and disbelief.
It was the next day before I even heard about what happened a continent away in a Connecticut elementary school. A tragedy occurred that no one should ever have to face. Lives forever changed by tragedy; citizens shocked that gun violence would once again claim the lives of children and teachers. An occurrence that, as unbelievable as it was, was becoming much too familiar.
While families and friends were frozen in shock, lawmakers immediately vowed to make the changes necessary to make our schools and neighborhoods safe. A year and over 35,000 gun deaths later, they have failed. In fact, more gun restrictions were loosened than tightened!
It was into this kind of darkness and because of this kind of darkness that God stepped into human history in the birth of Christ; to shine a new light and light a new path. In the meantime, we wait and listen and turn to God.
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me abide in your tent forever,
find refuge under the shelter of your wings. ~ Psalm 61:1-4
Guns are a public health issue like wearing a seatbelt and not driving when you’ve been drinking or text while driving. Keeping this relevant to commemorate lives lost because of gun violence: Do you really need a gun? If your answer is ‘Yes’, you must write out your response, including why, and post it on your refrigerator in order for it to count as your Advent Action.
While I wait in this season of Advent, help me to look into my heart’s recesses for motive and intention in the things I choose to do. May we be motivated to truly change our ways as a way of redeeming tragedy. Amen.