On Sunday morning before church I visited with the police officer who supports our Sunday morning security team. I wanted to know if he was ok because he helped apprehended the shooter who took the life of a pastor’s 25 year old daughter on Friday night with a stray bullet fired into a crowd in Kansas City. The officer said “My mom worries about me but what can you do?”
Our country is dialoging about the issue of gun violence in our land. But what does God see in this tragic loss of life? What wisdom from the Christian scripture and tradition shapes our response to the innocent falling to their deaths while purchasing school supplies on a Saturday morning or savoring the harmony of live music on a summer night?
The Bible begins in the Garden of Eden, a pleasurable paradise designed by God on earth, but trouble looms just around the corner. After the creation story in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis, violence erupts in chapter 4 when Cain murders his brother Abel. Then, by chapter 6, God decides that the whole human race needs a makeover and recruits Noah to build an ark. What is the problem? The Bible says that God is grieved because of violence. Violence was the problem. And God’s heart was broken. And God looked for a way to restore the human race. God seeks to transfer them from wickedness and violence to rainbows and a sprig of hope in a dove’s mouth.
I believe that God calls us to be a part of the solution. In Japan there are typically less than 10 gun deaths per year and in the US it’s about 32,000. This tells me that as a society, we have within our power, the ability to dramatically reduce the violence. The El Paso shooter lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. My parents frequently shop at Walmart in Ft. Worth on the weekends. How much closer does the violence need to be to each of us before we act? God’s heart is surely grieved. And God’s promise gives us a way forward to restore life and hope.