Jesus… asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; others Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-29a NRSV)
It has been a remarkable two weeks since the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Once again violence has touched the lives of most Americans and reignited the ongoing debate about what legal controls are needed for firearms and other weapons in our country.
These are important questions. They deserve our prayerful attention and response as Christians, and as Americans. We have learned that gun violence in this country far exceeds gun violence in many other countries around the world. We urgently need to find the right balance between our individual rights and liberties on the one hand, and the protection of innocent people in our society on the other.
For us, as Christians, this conversation begins, ends, and is wrapped in prayer and careful discernment, based on our understanding of who Jesus is and how we can most faithfully follow Jesus. The danger is that, like the disciples, we become distracted by the competing voices and sound bites of others.
Who do we say Jesus is? Jesus is the One we are called to follow and emulate. No one else will do… So, in addition to our prayers for the victims, their families and communities, we are called to prayerfully engage with one another in study and respectful conversation that leads us to faithful responses as we lift our voices, send our emails, call our representatives, engage in public witness and advocate in the way of Jesus. What better place than our congregations to offer ongoing faithful dialogue and support?
To share the Gospel with the world is our unique calling, and in times like these, is also a truly helpful perspective to offer our democracy, as together we search for justice and peace in a broken, deeply divided and often confusing world.
Let us hold one another in prayer as we journey together in support of all victims, peacemaking, advocacy and the bold proclamation of the Gospel.
—Bishop Bob Humphrey
more information on what the ELCA has to offer on these important topics visit the ELCA website (http://www.elca.org/).
In 2013 The ELCA Bishops put out a statement on Gun Violence (http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/COB_Pastoral_Letter_On_Violence.pdf)
Since then our Presiding and Synodical Bishops have often spoken about our need to be engaged in meaningful ways throughout the world to beat swords into plowshares and faithfully follow our Lord.