By the time you read this more will be known about what happened at Union Station on Wednesday. But for now, my heart breaks, along with yours. Two of my grandchildren, along with my daughter-in-law, spent the night at a downtown hotel so they could get a front-row spot along the parade route. One of our congregation’s young moms came to Ash Wednesday service last night with her two young sons. After they received the ash cross on their forehead, she explained how just hours earlier she hid behind a food truck in those chaotic moments after shots were fired.

When I take half a step back from the personal affront of having this happen so close, my heart turns to God. I offer God my lament. For in our society, we have solid data that points to common-sense ways to reduce gun violence. Gun safety laws work. But in Missouri, we do not implement them. And then I wonder how God hears my prayers. Does God wonder back, “why don’t you do something to protect these children?”

In the Bible, there is this moment when God gets so angry that God declares a do-over for humanity. God wipes out the human race, except for Noah and his family. And the reason God was so mad? Violence!

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence…God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. (Genesis 6:11, 13). And that was millennia prior to automatic weapons being developed and military-style weapons available for sale to civilians. There was only so much violence you could do with a slingshot. Still God was determined to end the violence.

This morning, I found solace and comfort from the words of the sportswriter for the Wall Street Journal, Jason Gay who described the gun violence our nation is experiencing on an ongoing basis as “our shared, societal sickness.” He says of this tragedy of gun violence:

It should feel like a human emergency. Only the hardest possible heart can look at the chaos at the Chiefs parade and not ache for the lives and families involved. We have a collective responsibility to dig into the roots of this repeated madness and urge our representatives to make a good-faith effort to address it, through ideas like common-sense gun legislation, stronger penalties for illegal guns, increased interventions for mental health, better deterrents and security, or more likely a combination of it all. 

“It’s too hard” is not an acceptable answer. No one’s claiming there’s a single perfect solution. No one step will repair this crisis.

But I’ll take any step, just try.”

Sounds like God and Noah need a new project. Build an ark. Send out a dove. No rainbow is yet in sight. We need a do-over that frees the world from the scourge of senseless violence. Our faith demands it. Our children cannot thrive in this current climate. Where is the love of neighbor in this moment?

Wednesday, February 14 began with thoughts of love (Valentines) and joy (Parade) and no one was giving much emotional energy to the beginning of Lent (Ash Wed). But by the end of the day, we all sat in the ashes of death, so deeply aware of the fragile nature of this life and the human sin of violence.

With tears,