September 18 – September 26, 2018
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Several Partner Congregations have spoken out against gun violence in response to the most recent mass shootings in Parkland, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada including First Baptist Church of Palo Alto (Palo Alto, CA), Highland Baptist (Louisville, KY), University Baptist (Minneapolis, MN), and Lakeshore Ave Baptist (Oakland, CA). See their responses below.
As with many others, it seems almost pointless to rant any more about the absurdity and obscenity of gun violence in our country. Other nations have responded to such tragedies as yesterday’s mass murder in a Parkland, Florida high school with reasonable and stringent gun control measures that have proved to be effective. Is there some perverse dimension to American exceptionalism that this logic does not apply to us? Are we really hostages to a national gun and ammunition lobby that can rationalize automatic weapons in the hands of anyone outside of combat? (and I have questions there, as well.) Have we selected men and women to govern us who cannot see beyond their own self-interest in re-election to stand up for what is good and right?...
Of course, the issue of mass shootings is complex and has multiple motivations and, of course, there is no single solution to the problem. But I continue to believe that guns are a BIG part of the problem and sane and reasonable regulation of guns can go a long way toward solving the problem. For me, the evidence of the effectiveness of this approach in other "civilized" nations remains compelling. Mental health concerns and cultural insanity also need to be addressed, but they need to dealt with alongside gun control. I am deeply moved by young people all across the country believe this is so and are willing to put themselves on the line for what they believe. If we're not going to lead, we can at least follow them in their courage and passion for what is right.
I write this with a mixture of anger, disappointment, and heartache. The school shootings have been on my mind as I am sure they have been on yours. I keep seeing the mom with the ashes on her forehead gathering her teenager after the Florida shooting. The Lenten mark of the cross on one who is fearful, grieving and comforting and loving reminds me that our need for inner soul work is so desperately needed by all of us. I do not know how busy she was that day but when the call came, nothing else mattered. Just her children. In crisis love sorts out what matters. Love finds a way to do the right thing.
The murders at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida serve as a bitter and tragic reminder that the words of Psalm 73:6 describe us and the society we live in, very well. “They wear pride like a necklace and violence like a robe.” We know that common sense gun laws can mitigate against gun violence but we do not enact them. We know that ready access to mental health care can be of great benefit but we do not fund it. We know that the message “your life does not matter” reverberates through our culture at multiple levels and insidious ways, but we do not articulate a countervailing word. Our prayer must be “God of Enduring Hope, lead us to sanity, lead us to respect, lead us to justice, lead us to wisdom, lead us to the world you dream for us. Amen.”
We are a congregation that has many educators in it. I know that many among us would have done what the teachers in Florida did: protecting their students even if it meant sacrificing their own lives. How long will we have to mourn such mass shootings before we enact meaningful gun-control legislation? But more than that, what will we do to counter the narrative of fear and hopelessness that motivates too many white male shooters to take out their aggressions on innocent people? The bell choir ended the service with a fitting piece written to commemorate the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida. The piece did double duty yesterday serving as a tribute to the latest school shooting in Florida.