Each Wednesday, IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT features analysis of a news story from the week.
This week it is hard to write about the news. Political stories fade, or take on a strange color, in the tragic light of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our hearts break with the victims of the tragedy, and for a while, we cease our politicking to gather together, in person or across the Internet. It is right to do so. It is right to cease, for a moment, the frenzy of the news, and mourn as a nation.
President Obama’s speech reminded us to do just that. “I am very mindful,” he said at the prayer vigil on Monday night, “that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we’ve pulled our children tight. And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it.” The transcript of his speech can be found on NPR. It is a heavy moment for our nation. And words – any words, newspaper articles, blog posts – will not do justice.
Conversations about gun control have inevitably followed the shooting last Friday. The NRA has issued a statement saying, “The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown…The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” The NRA plans to hold a major press conference on Friday, Dec. 21, to issue a more detailed response.
Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has initiated a conversation to reinstate a lapsed 2004 ban on assault weapons. According to the Los Angeles Times, “President Obama supports an effort already afoot in the U.S. Senate to renew the expired ban on assault weapons, his spokesman said Tuesday. Obama also plans to back a law to tighten the regulations governing the sale of firearms at gun shows, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in his afternoon briefing.”
Reuters reported that other groups are engaging in the debate, both in Washington politics and in other sectors. “In another sign of a possible shift on the issue, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that would have allowed some gun owners to bring concealed weapons into schools. The U.S. Conference of Mayors sent an open letter to Obama urging him to act alone by exercising his executive power in addition to working with Congress.”
It is likely that new measures for gun control will be a top priority for President Obama and Congress in the weeks and months ahead.
But apart from that, we are left wondering how to make sense of this. Yes, as a government and a community of citizens, we are responsible for enacting political measures to ensure safety, protection, while preserving liberty. Yes, as members of the public, we ought to be concerned with how these measures are legislated. And we will have the opportunity to discuss these things for weeks to come.
But if we believe, as the Center for Public Justice does, that God is, in fact, King of this world, and our commitment to politics, to public debate, flows from that commitment, then now is the moment when we must pray.
We must pray the prayer that those familiar with more liturgical traditions know as part of Advent, the season before Christmas: Marantha. Come, Lord Jesus.
We pray this in moments of great tragedy fervently, with the hope and assurance that His first coming is the fulfillment of God’s promise of ultimate promise. We pray this in moments of great sadness, and remember that He has so loved the world that He has sent His Son to restore that has been undone by our fallenness. We pray this, because when we are faced with horrific evil, we must not lose heart, because we know:
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9.2, 6-7)
So we pray.
Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.
-Hilary Sherratt is a recent graduate from Gordon College, where she majored in Religion, Ethics and Politics. She is currently working as a grant writer at Gordon, and loves all kinds of writing. She hopes to eventually get her PhD in theology or history. She blogs about everyday life at http://thewildlove.wordpress.com and tweets at @hilarysherratt