let’s be patient
let’s be kind
“The horror of a week ago in Buffalo — the horror of the mass murder of black people shopping at Tops — will unfortunately not be the last of such crimes. After a time, I must confess, I would forget it, living in a country where mass murder seems to happen every couple of weeks.”
I wrote that last week. I really hate being right about this hellish aspect of our country. Killing is part of the background noise with life in the good ol’ US of A. Uvalde has the horrific honor of being joined with Sandy Hook, Columbine, and a host of others.
Being oblivious (in a state of forgetfulness, loss of memory) is bad enough, but perhaps there’s another quality I fear resides within us: becoming numb. We grow desensitized to it all. I must confess, when I heard about the slain little children in that elementary school, I felt nothing. Intellectually I understood the monstrous nature of the event, but it had very little emotional impact.
What does that say about me? Well, it’s not just about me!
Homicide in general has been increasing at a frightening pace. Many American cities have been registering murders at all-time highs. The lockdowns didn’t help matters. For many of us, home doesn’t feel like home. Home can be a dangerous place. Whatever minor benefit came from staying in place was vastly overwhelmed by the constellation of problems that were exacerbated.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Jesus is speaking of the shepherd tending the sheep, as opposed to (the) one with ill intent. To steal and kill and destroy. Unfortunately, in so many ways that describes us. There is so much hate. There is so much violence. There is so much impatience with each other. There is impatience in the restaurant when the server brings too many onions, when we specifically asked there be no onions!
And then there is impatience which results in hostility, even lethal hostility.
Still, let’s be reminded that yesterday was the Ascension of the Lord and in two days will be Ascension Sunday. Jesus was no longer with the disciples in physical form. The spirit of Christ is everywhere. Ephesians 1 tells us God raised Christ “from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (vv. 20–23).
In our expressions of lament and questioning, but also in our expressions of courage and hope, Jesus is there, standing with us. Because of the ascension, we can be “in Christ.” The cowardly one — who steals, kills, and destroys — has been defeated.
Because of that — for that very reason — there is an opening for lament. There is an opening to admit our brokenness. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
We can admit that we need help in finding answers.