Hoards of armed citizens, Proud Boys, Boogaloo Bois invade and position within and outside state capitols to protest a “stolen election.” Even though over 60 federal judges and the Supreme Court have validated what many are calling the “most secure election in our history”, weapons are strapped and readied to overturn the election.
Democracy under the gun is anti-Christian. Images of people carrying a cross or kneeling in front of a cross are a blasphemous display of a twisted witness. Jesus wretches! Yes, Jesus loves us. Jesus also calls us to reflect [God’s] will.
Jesus’ will is nonviolence. The Church is graced and called. Paul in Galatians writes of Christ’s Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, generosity and self-control.” The Christ Spirit is the anti-thesis of unabashed, unregulated gun use. The Christ Spirit graces us to inject a Christian narrative into society grounded in Biblical and confessional soil anti-bodies. The vaccine comes from the Affirmation of Baptism, providing in-church, in faith community practice which can be replicated in society. The congregation is the laboratory in which the Christ Spirit of nonviolent love is developed and then transferred into the world.
1. CREATE A BELOVED COMMUNITY. We gather to eat, sing, study, worship, reflect, struggle for understanding and enjoy each other. Together, we practice what is public. We engage the other side, those with whom we disagree. We deepen relationships. No guns allowed. Inappropriate gun presence creates fear. Intimidation wrecks community.
2. WORSHIP AND RECEIVE THE LORD’S SUPPER: We bend our knee ONLY to Jesus who is our Liberator, Teacher, Lord, Savior and Friend. We open our minds and hearts, we are transformed by the Spirit of Christ. We lift our beings to the Cross. The purpose of worship and the Lord’s Supper is to create a oneness of affection and not a battlefield of blood. The gun is not our Cross! Concealed carry and open carry are not practiced.
3. WE PROCLAIM CHRIST in words. We step up, stand up, speak up and act up, publicly voicing the Name of Jesus in word and deed. The public knows Whose we are, Who is our Center, to Whom we yield. Jesus is First things First! We announce our values and politics which emanate from Christ, the Word and the Confessions of the Church. First! The Second Amendment is not our creed but a reference point. We proclaim Christ is not a bullet! Christ is an embrace, a washing of forgiveness, a lifting by the hand, an empowerment to connect. We repeat what Jesus said in times of weapon use: “Enough!” “No more of this!” “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”
4. WE SERVE ALL PEOPLE: Jesus opens us! We love ALL people, of ALL persuasions, ALL political parties, ALL races and genders. Serving does not mean agreement. We serve by recognizing ALL people as created in the Image of God, worthy of our love but not our hatred, expected to listen but not necessarily agree, seeking comity though open to not walking together, discovering common ground while acknowledging different paths. We push for police reform, de-escalation and community policing to lessen violent racial profiling. To serve is to be open to new paradigms.
5. WE STRIVE FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE IN ALL THE EARTH: We commit to working together for equal justice and a kind peace for ALL. People and the earth deserve our common affection and commitment to the common good. Individual rights are balanced with the common good. We commit to sustaining life in all forms. We advance laws and practices to enhance ALL life towards a loving future. Though wars and police violence are at times regrettably justified by law, we humbly confess gun violence is sin, leading to forgiveness and repentance to call us forward to better ways of love.
We in the church are called to reflect Ways of Jesus. Inauguration Day is the moment for witness. Democracy by gun gives us pause to seek the Higher Way. Our way is of the Christ Spirit. Our nation groans for transformation.
Blessings and Peace!
Ron Letnes (Rev. Dr.)