I know it won't happen; but, what if? What if our entire country stopped for a day and prayed? Prayed to whatever God, gods or higher power we believe in, and listened? Listened for what God truly desires for us as a people in relation to guns, violence and brain illness? And then, because we had been able to come to some sort of mass consensus, we actually did the right things?
I have a hard time believing that our society would continue that way it is. I have a hard time believing that we would think that having so ridiculously many and appallingly destructive guns is what God wants for us. I have a hard time believing that we would think that having negligently open access to guns is so absolutely "essential" to being human that we are willing to sit back and do nothing while innocents are slaughtered! I have a hard time believing that we would think that leaving people with brain illness on the streets without care is what God wants.
I know this vision won't materialize, but it should. I know this dream won't come true, but if we have any connection to God left whatsoever, we have to continue to dream it.
Tomorrow, the Christian church will remember the day when the Holy Spirit flooded into our world in a dramatic, new way. The moment had been promised for centuries. Jesus - the Anointed One - reiterated the promise; and, several weeks after his resurrection and ascension, as his followers were gathered to celebrate Pentecost, the Spirit arrived and dwelt within them all.
One of the most important effects of the coming of the Spirit into their lives was the coming of dreams and visions of what life might be, of what life could be, and should be. As one of the Anointed One's followers proclaimed,
This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. Hear what God says!
In the last days, I will offer My Spirit to humanity as a libation. Your children will boldly speak the word of the Lord. The young will see visions, and your elders will dream dreams. Yes, in those days I will offer My Spirit to all servants, both male and female, and they will boldly speak My Word.
It was the inspiration, truly the "in-spiriting", of the Holy Spirit that led to the creation of hospitals so the sick were not simply quarantined and left to themselves. It was the Spirit that inspired the abolition of slavery and the end of segregation since all human beings are created in the image of God.
And the Spirit not only inspires dreams and visions, the Spirit also empowers us to make those dreams come true. As Darrel Bock writes,
The key to accomplishing [the dreams God inspires] is the enabling work of God's Spirit...A quick look at Acts 2 [cited above] shows how Peter himself is transformed from the timid figure of denial and failed nerve at Jesus' trial, to a preacher with fearless enthusiasm before an immense crowd at Pentecost. The contrast evidences the Spirit's transforming power at work.
Thursday afternoon, June 5th, another lonely, brain sick human being, took a weapon designed for ripping gaping wounds in mammals, took 50 rounds of ammunition, and walked onto a college campus wanting to blow away the lives of other human beings. In this case, he walked into Miller Hall on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, killed one human being and tried to kill many more. Now, families are grieving the loss of their children; students, faculty, staff, first-responders will live with nightmares and insecurity for the rest of their lives; and, families, students, faculty, staff and first-responders in other parts of the country have had their wounds from previous shootings torn open!
What if the whole country just stopped? Stopped to pray, to repent, to ask forgiveness, to seek guidance, and accepted God's power to act? Even if it doesn't happen on a national scale, that does not mean that we have to submit to the same path of sin that we have submitted to so many times before. The spirit still inspires us now, giving us dreams and the power to make dreams come true. God wants this sin to STOP! And the only way that is going to happen is with God's vision and God's power, with the inspiration and empowerment of the Spirit.
We can't make the whole country wait upon the Lord, but we can do so ourselves.
May we have the humility and courage to be guided by God. That we might see the day when no human being ever shoots another human being and all those who hurt, and suffer, who are in want, are cared for and healed.