Trump & Evangelicals
Renounce, Resist, Rejoice

Breaking the Numbness

Breaking the Numbness

Zephaniah 3:1-5

by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

Called to Action: A Day of Lamentation and Vigil Against Gun Violence

14 March 2018

 

    I must confess that last month when I first heard the news of the shooting in Parkland, I was numb. These mass shootings have become such a regular feature of American life that my reserves of grief and anger ran out long ago.

    But in his masterful work The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann tells us that numbness is a significant problem. There is a royal consciousness and a prophetic imagination, and the royal consciousness wants to maintain the unjust status quo by keeping people numb so that they can be managed. The prophets want us to imagine a new, different, and better world, but in order for us to imagine, we must first break the numbness by grieving. Brueggemann writes that "weeping permits newness."

    So I was pleased when I heard this event would occur today and that we would be challenged to break the numbness through lamentation.

    Last week I received my scripture assignment for today, and Zephaniah 3:1-5 was not one of those passages I memorized as a child in Southern Baptist Sunday school, but when I looked it up, I immediately recognized its appropriateness for today. The leaders of society, both political and religious, have failed to enact the justice of God and shame upon them. They will receive God's judgement.

    At First Central Sunday I was preaching on the story in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus tells the disciples that whoever wants to be a leader in the way of God must welcome and serve the children. As I prepared these two sermons, they were in conversation with one another. The justice of God that our leaders have failed to enact is the service to our children.

    Then I read in the newspaper about bulletproof backpacks. This news made me angry. This is not the world we want.

    Our faith tradition should guide us in understanding the current issues we face and give us a sense of how to resolve them. There is a clash of values and priorities in the current school safety and gun debate, but it seems clear to me that from reading our faith tradition that the value which should gain priority is the safety, security, and wellbeing of our children.

    Instead our society has created an idol out of the Second Amendment and guns and to this idol we are sacrificing our children. Shame upon us. We stand in judgement from God.

    So today I hope you will join me in breaking out of the numbness. Let us grieve. Let us get angry. For our grief and anger can turn into action on behalf of the justice of God. We must save our children.

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