Thus says the LORD: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. (Jeremiah 31:15)
This text speaks to us about a mother (Rachel) who is dying as she gives birth to her son. We know the boy as Benjamin. Jeremiah uses the text to speak of the fall of Judah, and how the invasion filled the streets with blood. Mathew picks up on this and uses the text to speak of the slaughter of innocence as Herod murdered children to get to Jesus.
Yesterday in a small Texas town of Uvalde Rachel’s scream can be heard again. Anger and hatred have spilled the blood of our children once again. The problem is that the morally weak will say we must sit in silence and pray and give good thoughts for those in Texas. As if we are helpless to do anything else. But this is the same sentiment that we have heard since 2012 with Sandy Hook. We heard this with Parkland Florida, with the 10 killed in Boulder Colorado, then 8 Asian Women, cross the country and in a Black neighborhood grocery store people gunned down, and as we keep memorializing, praying, and accepting this as normal, and now 19 children gunned down and two teachers. Their promise of possibility is stripped away. We in the U.S should know that our children have a 57 times greater risk than any other children in the WORLD of being killed at school. When have we become Beirut and why have we settled and become numb and become so passive in the face of such a great evil? I am tired of the pray and give thoughts mentality.
The Apostle James reminds us that faith that does not lead to works is dead. I believe James is right. We are fighting for the soul of humanity, the soul of America. We have become lost in the forest of hate armed to the teeth with firearms. I also am reminded of the words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless”. So, we now need to be the people of faith that we proclaim we are, and we need to do more than the giving of our prayers. I know that the sting of this shooting and all the shootings, the horror of the innocence being attacked can lead us to a place where we want to give up and be silent, and continually morn with the cry of Rachel. That truly is the ways of despair. But we are a people of hope. We are a people of faith that now calls for our faithful action.
We must demand that Mental Health be taken seriously. We must demand that those who want a gun must go through a background check. In Pennsylvania the clearance one needs to care for children is more invasive than it is to buy a gun. We must demand that military grade weapons remain out of the hands of the general population. Red flag laws need to be adopted. We need to teach everywhere hopeful, healing love to all we meet. PEOPLE OF FAITH IT IS TIME NOW TO BE THE CHURCH! SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION. Our neighbors’ lives, our children’s lives depend on it! Let us mourn but let us speak out boldly.
Rev. Brian Damrow