Further Thoughts About the Latest Mass Shooting*

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What can we do? The question keeps returning to my mind. How can we prevent more mass shootings? The news is preoccupied with mass shootings. Trying to find something meaningful to say remains an elusive challenge.
Then, on Monday, February 26, 2018, the BGAV Executive Board met. It would be wonderful to share with you some well-thought state-wide convocation on gun safety. Instead, they felt it necessary to address the CBF Illumination Project. In case you do not know what that is, the project was a multi-year exploration of the CBF policy on same-sex marriage. The conclusion was a more inclusive policy with a less inclusive implementation plan.
CBF news is not time-sensitive, so I have not mentioned it. There seem to be far bigger issues for us: continuing racial tension in Charlottesville, national gun violence, immigration reform and DACA, and a diminishing (or nonexistent) collegiate ministry at UVa. These issues do not even touch the number of things happening in the life of this church (Uni-Bap, a name for UBC from the 1970s that has a nice ring to it). Jubilate is getting ready to go on tour. Our church family just finished PACEM and is getting ready for OIAM and AQPTS. The conclusion of those events will lead right into VBS and the summer mission trip—sorry, there is no acronym for it.
At this moment, with so much happening, the BGAV, Uni-Bap’s historic home for over a century, decides not to accept money designated for the CBF any longer. My mind goes back to the families who lost children in Parkland, FL. What could I say to them, if I were their minister? God weeps with you. Christ was crucified again when a shooter rained bullets on your child’s classroom. Are those adequate words? Are they words of comfort?
If I were a Parkland-parent, I would wonder what is different now. Why was it not bad enough to do something after the Sandy Hook Shooting (2012)? What about San Bernardino (2015)? Orlando (2016)? Sutherland Springs Church (2017)? Or, Las Vegas (2017)?
What can we do? We can certainly pray. Pray for the victims’ families. Pray for humanity that is so lost that we kill one another. Pray for people to see signs of violence before someone acts. Pray for prevention education. Pray for politicians to act. Pray for God’s guidance on a profoundly divisive issue. Pray for patience and the love of Christ as we enter discussions with people who disagree with us.
What else can we do? We are called to be the salt of the earth. But, if salt loses its flavor, it is worthless. What does being the salt look like at a time such as this? I pray that you will help me discover where God is leading us and who God is leading us to be.
* This reflection was previously published by University Baptist Church in The Word.

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