In one of the Psalms of Lament in Hebrew Scripture, we read the words:
O God, the heathen have come into thy inheritance;
they have defiled thy holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of thy servants
to the birds of the air for food,
the flesh of thy saints to the beasts of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water …
How long, O Lord? - Psalm 79:1-3, 5
The psalmist’s words accurately describes our feelings as we are shocked, stunned, and saddened by yet another senseless and indefensible act of gun violence. As I write this, the death toll in Las Vegas is over 50 and expected to rise, and the number of those injured is in excess of 400. There is no rationale or justification for what took place there. The victims were innocent people, unknown to the gunman, who were simply enjoying a musical concert when a madman opened fire from a window 32 stories above the crowd.
“How long, O Lord?,” asked the psalmist. Today we ask that same question with similar fears and tears. How long until a culture of love and kindness begins to make more sense than a culture of anger and aggression? How long until governmental leaders make the reasonable decision that only police and military personnel need rapid fire automatic weapons, thus those guns can be prohibited for sale to the public without in any way jeopardizing 2nd Amendment rights? How long until a violent society realizes that violence is not the answer? How long until we begin to pay attention to the fact that what we feed to our children (e.g., violent video games) are seeds that may grow into actions when those children are older? How long until we realize that human life is sacred and whatever we do to another, we do to Christ himself? (Check out Matthew 25 when Jesus taught precisely that.) How long until we practice civility on social media, and thus help de-escalate the vitriol that has become our norm? How long until the madness ends and we stop worshiping violence and begin worshiping God? How long until each of us in our own personal ways decides to contribute to making the world kinder and safer?
Today we pray for the victims in Las Vegas, that those who were killed may enter into eternal life in an Eternal Kingdom where there are no weapons and there is no death. We pray for their families. We pray for those who were injured that they may fully recover, both physically and emotionally. Tomorrow, we keep praying – that our God of Love will reveal to us that there is a better way than what we have descended to. It is the way of One called the “Prince of Peace.” And only by following Him can we find our path out of the shadows of misery and into the Light of Life.