by Rev. Diane Weible
When I heard the news about the shooting in Las Vegas and then the words, “it is the worst mass shooting in modern day history,” I thought to myself how senseless that statement has become.
For the parents of the children at Sandy Hook, the worst mass shooting has already happened.
For the mother of another black man killed in the streets, that shooting has already happened.
For the family and friends of those murdered in the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub last year, nothing was worse than that.
For the families of the worshipers killed in Charleston, the worst mass shooting happened during a Bible study.
I could go on and on with the list of other deaths, of lives taken senselessly by guns. After each shooting there is outrage and anguish and tears. There is a call for stricter gun laws. There is a call for someone to finally listen—maybe this will be the tragedy that convinces people the Second Amendment does not mean a person has a right to own 40 something assault rifles…or even one.
We speak out about gun violence… but almost with a, “what can we do?”
We get our hopes up that finally change will happen. And then when it doesn’t we throw our hands up in the air and say a prayer and move on.
I don’t think we do it because we stop caring. We do it because we feel helpless and small in the face of huge systems that don’t seem to be able to move, or even budge an inch. We do it because it feels as if we are throwing a rubber ball at a brick wall trying to knock it down but, instead, the ball keeps coming back and hitting us in the heart… and it hurts.
So what is the answer? The answer is that we don’t give up. Everything we fight for as Christians is too important for us to ever give up. At Congregational Church of San Mateo on Sunday morning the Rev. Penny Nixon began her benediction with, “God has no hands but our hands; God has no feet but our feet…” It’s true. We know that God cries when people are shot and killed. But then God calls us to do something; to respond. It is our hands and feet that will make a difference whether we are marching or praying or finding ways to help. It is our voices that will be heard whether we whisper or shout. It will be our strength that might finally knock out a brick in the wall.
I have seen emails from our wider family in Christ across this Conference sharing news of prayer vigils they have held this week. My colleagues in Conference Ministry sent the following resources that we can use as we reflect and struggle over how to talk about this:
We are all doing what we can. Let’s keep on doing it and let’s find ways to help one another in the work that lies before us. There is a lot for us to do. We need each other. Please use Facebook (NCNC has a page and so does the Justice and Witness Team of NCNC) to put out a call for how we can help one another make a difference. If we work together none of us will ever need to feel so small.
(adapted from the prayer of St. Avila)
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which God is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which God is to bless all of humanity now.