The Unimaginable

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.)

sarai-laraI’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.

2 responses to “The Unimaginable

  1. Jan, I am so appreciating your leadership in the denomination and your writing on race and violence in your BLOG. I’ve been thinking about the people who you named by gun violence- thanking for naming them as we also hold the too many to name in this BLOG.

    I’m thinking about your section…what can we do. I think getting to known your police officers is 1 good suggestion–however does it not depend on our context? In some communities who have experienced such loss recently, particularly black communities, inviting the police chief might really be a good idea or not… Maybe to rage on like you said earlier… For me as white person of probe ledge who worships in an affluent church a where 1/3 of worshippers are people of color, meeting the police officers is good. Maybe the more challenging thing is to partner- in the best way- with a neighborhood or church that has know or is living with this plague of blood. Go and love in solidarity with people “whose suffering is too difficult to name” and will probably look and live differently than us. Like you’ve challenged us before. I need to get out of my context and live in theirs- racial/ class connectionalism. I need to suffer with my brothers and sisters in despair- not to rescue them.. but maybe to be rescued by them. Thanks for challenging us with beginning steps. If you write when I have, it would be dismissed. Baby steps

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Carl Hilton VanOsdall

    I likes this one…… Seattle story and the challenges of this day and age….

    On Sep 29, 2016 06:01, “achurchforstarvingartists” wrote:

    > jledmiston posted: “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 chi” >


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