17 Nov Enough Is Enough…
Thank you for a wonderful celebration of God’s faithfulness to us on Stewardship Sunday. It was a joyful, worshipful experience, as we gave thanks for God’s gifts and blessings, and as we made our commitments for the year ahead. If you attended Sunday’s service, either virtually or in person, you know that a recurring theme in my sermon was “enough is enough.” Could any of us have dreamed as we worshiped together how that phrase would show up next?
As you are no doubt aware, Monday afternoon a shooting occurred in Aurora, Colorado in Nome Park, across the street from Aurora Central High School. Six of Central High’s students, ages 14-18, were injured in the shooting. Thankfully, all of them are expected to recover. In reporting on the incident, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson stated that “When I got the call, my heart dropped. I think enough is enough” (my emphasis added.) In asking for the public’s help to provide information that can lead to the arrest of the suspected gunmen, Chief Wilson also said, “I need us all to be outraged by what happened here today,” before calling gun violence in our schools a “public health crisis.”
I appreciate Chief Wilson’s comments, and at the same time, I am heartbroken that they are necessary. Yet another shooting. More of our children in harm’s way, just by going to school. More faculty and staff at risk. More parents trembling over close-calls and potential disaster. Thousands of students impacted by the anxiety and fear that they are not safe as they go about the routine of being kids.
Chief Wilson raises a profound question: are we outraged by what has happened? Do we feel horror or grief by what Central High’s students have experienced? Are we offended that once again trauma counseling is needed for our children as a result of gun violence? Are we concerned for the lasting effects violence has, not just on those who were pierced by a bullet, but on the entire community? Do we care at all? When will enough be enough?
These are difficult questions under any circumstances, but the juxtaposition of this tragedy barely 24-hours after we had celebrated God’s goodness and blessings has left me shaking my head. It shouldn’t, I suppose. The truth is that violence is a daily part of our lives and of the human experience, and simultaneously, so are God’s peace, beauty, wisdom, mercy, and love. These two realities—the brokenness of humanity and the good gifts of a loving God—exist side by side and hand in hand. Both are always present, even if we sometimes choose to turn a blind eye and deaf ear on one or the other of them.
Perhaps the opportunity here is to ponder Chief Wilson’s comments and examine our own hearts in light of the issues she raises. If we have become so inured to violence that we have no empathy with the Aurora community, that is cause for concern—and repentance. If we are willing to keep the status quo intact, as if the suffering of others is not our problem, that is also cause for concern—and repentance. As followers of Jesus, neither apathy nor hopelessness are faithful responses to the problems we face. As we said in our corporate confession on Sunday, we are a people “set apart not for privilege but for service; not for special rights but for responsibility.” We are to use our blessings for the good and betterment of others.
Surely there’s no better time than Thanksgiving to express our gratitude for all that God has done for us by doing one concrete act of service for someone else. This can be a moment when we see the plight of our fellow human beings, especially those we’ll never even know, and choose to enter in to their suffering and say—at least for today—enough is enough.
Yours for the Kingdom,