Stop the killing. I don’t know what else to say. Put down the instruments of death. Stop the rage. Stop the anger. End the murder. This world we’ve created, one of perpetual mass murder and generational loss must end. Today’s shooting is tomorrow’s suicide. At some point, the death must stop. Humanity is not a herd to be culled one massacre at a time. If you believe God to be Holy and creation sacred, then you must wish the killing to end. Does America think life matters enough that massacres shouldn’t be a way of life in 21st century America? I am not sure we do. We are very comfortable with the status quo. Americans appear willing to live a “mass shooting” roulette lifestyle. It could be at school, the mall, or at a nightclub. Who knows? It’s the chance we take on the freewheeling, gun-toting, God-loving, Bible-believing rollercoaster we’re blessed to ride. However, the moment our society becomes comfortable with death efficiently delivered on an industrial scale, much of the progress and hope we’ve planned for the future will be irrelevant. Who’s going to buy a smart refrigerator in a polarized society where you’re afraid to go out of your house? Will it tell you which weapon to carry to the grocery store or which people with mental health issues have firearms? I don’t want to live in that world.
Death cannot lead to more death. Violence begets violence. Those who live by the semi-automatic sword are dying by the bump stock. More guns, whether in church or synagogues, are not the answer.
I’ve also grown weary of “thoughts and prayers.” I know the victims need our thoughts and prayers. We’ve been praying for victims of gun violence for days upon days, week after week, month after month, and year after year. I’ve prayed as soon as I’ve heard about the tragedies and for months and years after the events. Then, I’ll wake up, like this morning and twelve more people are dead. I’ll pray. I’ll study scripture for inspiration. I spend time in the sanctuary. Here’s what concerns me. Because of the frequency and horror of these events, I’m worried no one is listening to my prayers. I feel like I’m talking myself. Is God not there, ignoring us, or tired of wanton appetite for self-destruction?
I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a combination of all three. That’s how it feels.
Here’s what I do know: stop the killing. Death is not the answer.
Rev. Richard Lowell Bryant