What words can drive us forward, into the future, engaging the new year? In my devotions today, I read Isaiah 9:2-7.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light….
For the yoke of their burden…you have broken….
For a child has been born FOR US….
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace….
He will establish and uphold it with justice
Isaiah 9:2-7 (portions)
I share these words in the context of gun violence prevention. It is easy to despair when engaging this cause. The list of names and places are all too familiar moments of tragedy. It is a sad commonplace: “Oh, no! Another one! Enough!” So hammers the litany. Nothing seems to make a difference in lessening gun violence, or so it seems.
There is hope if we seize it, if we allow it to move us forward in the Spirit of the above words drawn from the deep well of faith active in love. If we act!
“If we want to participate in this Advent and Christmas event,
we cannot simply sit there like spectators in a theater
and enjoy all the family pictures. Rather, we must
join in the action that is taking place and be drawn into
this reversal of all things ourselves.
Here we too must act on the stage,
for here the spectator is always a person acting in the drama.
We cannot remove ourselves from the action.”
Consider the power of universal background checks to save lives. Every life? No. But, states with universal background checks have 46% fewer women being shot to death by an intimate partner and have 48% fewer suicides. FBI data shows that in states that require universal background checks for all handgun sales, blocking criminals from buying guns or owning guns in unlicensed sales online or at gun shows, there are 48% fewer police officers killed.
It is heartening that many polls asking people’s feelings about universal background checks, indicate a 70%-80% support for this law. Why? Many believe in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, those who should be watched due to stress, and the mentally ill. Many believe gun safety is a public health issue that demands common sense laws. Many realize that universal background checks allow gun ownership. Hunters can still hunt, citizens can own guns for self-protection, and sportsmen and women can still shoot recreationally.
Forward action is also possible by passing a law preventing those 800,000 people on the Terrorist Watch List from purchasing guns. Since 2004, over 2000 people on the TWL have purchased guns.
Yet, there is hope that action will be taken to prevent this irresponsible purchasing.
The Church is ideally placed to insist upon action. We have a Biblical witness, church statements, theological urgings from wise leaders and the conviction of the many to guide and empower action. We have a bold way forward. It is time! We can do it! Enough!
This is what Advent is about: anticipating hope and deliverance as real. This is what Christmas is about: God coming in Christ to transform the status quo, change hearts and minds from violence to peacemaking, and insist upon justice for all. In Christ we are given the way forward.
“Good news to some will almost inevitably be bad
news to others….When Jesus came…it was to proclaim
the end of things as they are and the breaking in of things
that are to be: the status quo is not to be criticized,
it is to be destroyed.”
Let’s do it! It is we who bring hope to life! It is we who are the voices, hands and legs to go forward. It is we who provide the action.
It is we who break the yoke of burden, create peace, and establish and uphold justice.
It is WE!