If you haven’t noticed yet, all my posts this week include Hamilton lyrics. (The touring company opened last night in Chicago. Thanks be to God.)
I’ve been thinking about Evangeline Lara whose 16 year old daughter Sarai survived childhood cancer but was killed by gunshot at a shopping mall in Seattle last weekend.
Let this sink in for a moment: Imagine the monumental stress of parenting a child through cancer. And then a person shoots her at a shopping mall. Shoots. Her. At. A. Shopping. Mall.
I’ve been thinking about Samaria Rice whose 12 year old son Tamir was shot by a police officer in Cleveland because his toy gun was mistaken for a real one. He had been sitting on a swing in a playground. Who can accept this, even years later?
I’ve been thinking about the 26 teenagers shot and killed in Chicago in 2016. Almost all of them were 15 or 16 years old.
I’ve been thinking about the families of the 20 children who died at Sandy Hook. I’ve been thinking from the perspective of being a parent myself. It’s unimaginable.
There are moments that the words don’t reach. There is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can, and push away the unimaginable.*
What will the Church do about this violence? What can we do? There are plenty of church buildings with “No Guns” decals on the doors. But there are other churches with gun-wielding parishioners in their pews because that’s their culture. It feels impossible to imagine a world without gun violence in the United States.
What moves us to demand change are those glimpses of the unimaginable becoming real. These are not “somebody else’s children.” These are our children. God’s children.
What can we do?
Get to know the police officers in our communities. Invite the police chief or sheriff to church to talk about how we can support them. Invite them to hear our own community concerns (and fears.) Introduce them to our children – especially to our brown and black sons. Be in relationship.
A world without gun violence might well be unimaginable in your community. Or if you feel like your community is safe, try to imagine – just for a moment – what it must be like for the parents of these lost children. And then be brave. Be outspoken for the sake of the Gospel. Be the Church.
Image of 16 year old Sarai Lara. Lyrics from “It’s Quiet Uptown” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.