San Bernardino. Just the mention of the location and we know what we are referring to. A mass shooting. Another mass shooting. There have been at least 355 mass shootings in the US in 2015. That’s more than one a day. It is clearly too late to prevent this from becoming a “thing” because it is already a “thing.” It’s a thing with many causes. A thing with many potential responses. And while there may be differing views on how to address this thing, I think that almost everyone agrees that we want to be rid of this thing. We don’t want to live in a country with a reputation for mass shootings. We don’t want to come to terms with the reality that most of these mass shootings are done by people who seem just like the people we see in the store, or at work, or at a sporting event. We don’t want to feel unsafe.
Doing nothing is not an answer. We must concern ourselves with the causes and conditions that lead to these horrific events. We need to apply our best and brightest capabilities to addressing these problems. And we must do this even though it will take time for implementation to yield results. It won’t be a quick fix in time for the next election cycle. But still, we need to act.
But that is not the end of the story. This is the season of Advent. This is the time we prepare for the celebration of a birth. It is a time to remember that in the worst of times, a baby was born; a person who continues to impact the world in significant ways even over 2000 years after his coming. Who would have expected that baby to have such an effect? We think about it now as God breaking into human history in a surprising way with an unforeseen result. It is something no one could have predicted.
Was that the last of God’s surprises? Do we no longer expect to be astounded by unforeseen events? Will we limit the scope of God’s influence?
While we work for peace in our country and pursue ways to end the mass shootings and all shootings, let’s remember the theme for this Advent season at LUCC: Wonder-Full Peace. Let’s not forget the wonder. The mystery. The awe. The jaw dropping surprise. Breaking in. And changing the game. For good. Peace IS possible.
Take a moment to think about something that has happened that has taken you by surprise. It could be something in society or in your own life. Did you ever expect there would be an African American president in your lifetime? Did you think you would live to see gay marriage?
Prayer: In this season of watching and waiting, may we be open to God’s surprises. May we not limit the scope of the power of Divine Love. May we trust that love to heal the horrible pain suffered by the loved ones of those killed in San Bernardino and of all other victims of violence. Amen.