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Gun Violence: I’ve reached my breaking point

You can tell a lot about a culture by how it treats its children.

I don’t remember who first said that to me, but when I heard it I knew at once it was true. The children among us … Do we support them? Do we include them? Do we honor them? Do we fund their endeavors? Do we prioritize our work with them? Do we care for them and hold them close? Do we respect them, whether they are part of our family, of another family or of no family?

This question was foremost in my mind several years ago when I read an awful account of the inhumanity waged against a child in the name of religious warfare. Unconscionable, I thought, How can one who bears the image of God act in such a way toward another who also bears the image of God?

I could only conclude that the one didn’t recognize this image in himself and thus didn’t recognize it in the other. If he did, I supposed, he could never behave so.

And that, naively, was the initial impetus for my book whose working title was taken from this blog, the Kinesthetic Christian, and which was ultimately titled Made to Move: Knowing and Love God Through Our Bodies. If people knew what a miraculous masterpiece they were and all of humankind was, how could we hate? How could we kill? How could we do other than honor all those we met?

Yet, here we are. Killing the other who is different, who is defenseless, who is innocent. Each one, created as a masterpiece and gifted with a life over which to discover and display it, denied it. God help us.

And God has. Through Jesus, God issued instructions, to seek to “Love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourself.” Our lives are our practical exam. Our place to chisel away all that is not loving in order to uncover the masterpiece within.

However…

O Lord, we don't trust we are loveable.
We don't believe we are a masterpiece.
What we see in ourselves, we often don't like
And too often we take it out on others.

We say things we don't mean.
We act in ways that are "not us."
Confirming what we believe about ourselves, 
not the truth of who we are,
at least who we are truly meant to be.

O Lord, today I recommit to your life's work in me. 
I acknowledge and accept your assignment as my instructions, 
trusting that the world you created
and the circumstances in which you placed me
are designed to chisel away the ugly and leave the lovely.

My charge: 
To seek to act in ways which show my love for you and the whole of your creation: 
with whole heart, whole soul, whole mind, and whole strength
for the good of my neighbor because of Your Good in me.  

If the life I am leading is the practical portion of my life’s exam, I pray there is still time for me to earn a passing grade. And I pray the same for you. Each of us are commissioned into the work of our lives. Surely, in our day, there is enough work to go well around.

Today, I took my first step in addressing the gun violence being perpetrated in my country. I learned that my church denomination passed a resolution to end gun violence at its 2016 Conference. I will be participating in a group pledged to respond and to act on these measures. Not only is it way past time to do this but our very lives may depend on it. So many lives have already been given for it…

Perhaps, the same Spirit is prompting me that inclined the rich young ruler of scripture to fall on his knees before Jesus and inquire, “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life? ~ Mark 10:17

It is probably no accident that in the moment just before the encounter above we’ve just read, People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. ~Mark 10:13-16

If you would like to join the group we are gathering to learn more about the gun violence issue and ways we can address it, please send me an email here or leave your contact info in the comments below. 

One Bread, One Body

One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many, throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord.

How many times have I sung these words while taking communion and while others communed at our common table? Bread broken. Poured out wine. Each of us humbled before the elements of the One Lord.

Gentile or Jew
Servant or free
Woman or man
No more

A cup of blessing offered openly, freely, with each one individually. No distinction. No head table. No second rows. No provisional status. No, come back after you have made some changes. All welcomed at the table of grace.

One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many, throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord.

Yet, look at us there. Each so different. All sizes and shapes, colors and hues, ages and stages. What a variety we are, just to look at us. But what an even more glorious distribution we are on the inside. A side we can’t see but our Lord does. A place we don’t know but our God does.

Many the gifts, many the works
One in the Lord of all.

One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many, throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord.

What a beautiful day is coming when each one kneels, bearing soul, offering self, telling the truth of their life to the One who alone can read it in full.

And together… We are one body in this one Lord.

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