For the 70th time since 1994 gun fire erupted in a school in America. Time magazine called the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut “The Slaughter of the Innocents.” That image evokes the Christmas story of Joseph being warned in a dream to flee Bethlehem just before Herod’s troops killed all of the male children under three. (Matthew 2:13-18) None of us had an alarming dream last Thursday night. But all of us had been warned by the ever escalating, semi-automatic gun violence that a day like this might be coming.
The consensus seems to be that three issues need to be addressed: civilians with military designed weapons; our culture of violence; and mental illness. Individual believers and local congregations need to step forward to address these issues. The matter of weapons that are designed to kill dozens of people without the assailant having to reload needs to be addressed by us to our public officials. I suggest each of us needs to tell these officials our opinion on the matter.
Graphic violence in video games and movies has become ingrained in our culture. In the shoot-em-up games, when a player loses a level, he “dies.” Then a moment later the player resets the game and he lives to die a violent death again. Occasionally he has to reload his weapons. Dinner table discussions about the desensitizing levels of habitual brutalization of the “bad guys” need to take place, across generations. Grandparents included.
When I graduated from seminary, I soon discovered that I was ill-equipped to handle the multiple levels of mental illness within the families of the church and community. I needed to take a crash course in mental health and build a network of healthcare professionals. Mental illness has increased greatly over the years. The reality for the church is that the mentally ill and their families are some of the most invisible among us. It is time for us to intentionally cross the barriers of mental illness in Jesus’ name.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Reach across the table. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.