Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Beginning and Newtown

At Chain of Lakes our theme for Advent has been New Beginnings.  We’ve talked about how God is always doing something new in our life.  We don’t have to invent these New Beginnings; our task is to perceive them.  The sermons can be seen here:
The horrible shootings last Friday in Connecticut have obviously revealed that our country needs a New Beginning with our relationship to violence.  Perhaps this New Beginning can start in congregations across the United States who resolve to find ways to prevent these murders.  I believe that God is working right now—just as God has always been working among us—to create a peaceful world.    
Let me state the obvious:
God didn’t create children so they would be killed in schools.
If we could keep the conversation right there and there alone I think we could develop the will to create a less violent world.  The solutions divide us, but this obvious fact doesn’t.  If we can stay with the obvious, then perhaps the hard work of finding the solutions won’t be so hard.
Sure, right now there is energy for meaningful gun control.  But I don’t think that meaningful gun control is the only solution to solving the problem of our countries relationship to violence. 
Yes, I do think that access to semi-automatic weapons should be limited; yes, I’ve never been in favor of conceal/carry in our state or country; no, I’m not for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment; yes, I do believe that people have the right to own guns in their homes (and I hope they store them safely); yes, I think hunters should be able to enjoy their sport; no, I’m not worried about the government having arms and the citizens not.
But if the only response to the shootings in Connecticut is the regulation of semi-automatic weapons the response is not complete. 
As long as teenagers have access to violent video games children will be killed in schools.  As long as adults don’t receive adequate mental health treatment, children will be killed in schools.  As long as Hollywood and television give us movies and shows where violence is glorified, children will be killed in schools.  As long as the media continues to be fascinated with the people who perform these evil acts, children will be killed in schools. 

The church is not guilty in relationship to these Mass Shootings.  We are more interested in stopping gratuitous sex than gratuitous violence.  I'm not in favor of either, but the consequences of our focus have been revealealed in incidents like the shooting in Newtown.  Our congregations don't offer sufficient Mental Health resources to the world, which is odd since Jesus has always been the great healer. 
The issues are obvious; the solutions are not.
I believe that the complete solution begins with God and then ricochets through the human heart.
I’m convinced that meaningful change can take place if church people get involved.  Our involvement can’t be around a partisan agenda; instead we have to bring people together to find a consensus on all these issues.  This will take perseverance even when the emotions regarding the Connecticut school shootings has withered.
I am happy to get involved, but I am first taking time to pray.  I have committed myself to praying every day in 2013 that no Mass Shootings will ever take place again.  This is my starting place; it won’t be my ending place.
I do believe that God wants a New Beginning in terms of our countries relationship to violence.  I don’t think a solution will happen unless we’re open to the movement of the Spirit.  This starting place could be our New Beginning.

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