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Reflection – First Sunday of Lent

February 18, 2018

When I picked this picture for the cover of the bulletin for the First Sunday in Lent on Monday, I wrote the following reflection to be put under the picture: “This double rainbow appeared in the sky last August. We are fortunate up here in Estes Park to see many rainbows and more than our share of double rainbows. Today’s reading from Genesis is about the Covenant God made with Noah after the flood which was sealed by the bow God put in the sky. Every time I see a rainbow I am reminded of God’s love for us.”

Then Wednesday happened… I was still too shocked when it came time to lead our Ash Wednesday service but as I placed ashes on the foreheads of our worshippers, I did think about the students and faculty who had been killed by the lone gunman who was a former student. From ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

As the week wore on, my heart became heavier and heavier. I tried a number of times to blog as a part of my typical sermon preparation but it just wasn’t happening. In addition to all of that, my wife Denise flew back to check on her folks and spent the weekend at the hospital after her Mom was admitted. I was, to be honest, struggling to see the rainbow in the sky and the promise associated with it.

In Genesis 9:8-17 we read about God’s promise to Noah and his family along with the rest of creation to never destroy the earth again. It hit me that God didn’t hang a rainbow in the sky… God hung God’s Bow in the sky. God’s now was an offensive weapon of war! Perhaps it is time for us to hang up our offensive weapons of war in the civilian sector! An AR-15 is NOT a hunting rifle. Semi-automatic weapons are NOT for hunting! They are one thing and one thing alone. They are offensive killing machines!

Yet in this country too many seem to think that they have the right to own and have access to them. I was a non-combatant in the military as a USAF Chaplain. Yet my colleagues in uniform who were rated to carry weapons didn’t carry them around at all times. They had to train extensively on the proper use and safety of the weapons. They had to keep them secured in the armory and only had them in possession when it was militarily necessary. I.e. when they were on duty as base security or in a war zone. The vast majority of my uniformed colleagues have a healthy respect for the weapons and don’t feel the need to possess one personally. The ones that I know who own such weapons personally are either conspiracy theorists who think they need to have weapons to protect them from the government (this conspiracy is nearly always pushed when a Democrat is in the White House) or compensating for some sort of felt inferiority.

The bottom line is that the proliferation of these weapons is NOT good. Yet politicians posture, point fingers, and offer empty “thoughts and prayers” while children continue to die. It is also my understanding that in certain parts of ‘Murica, people are calling the ones who are speaking out all sorts of derogatory names. Who are these prophets? They are the children who survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida. They are calling on the “grownups” to step up to the plate and work together towards solutions instead of offering empty phrases!

When is the time for discussion and action on this issue? Now! And that brings me back to the story from Genesis. God hung up God’s offensive weapon (the bow) and sought a better way to deal with the sometimes belligerent children created in God’s own image than to wipe out the entire earth.

The voice of the prophets ate speaking Washington, D.C., are you listening? The voice of the prophets are speaking state and local government, are you listening? In the words of Isaiah 11:6 — “The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed together, and a little child will lead them.”

In the voice of these children who survived and who saw more carnage and bloodshed than many citizens see in a lifetime, I hear hope. And a little child shall lead them… perhaps in that hope, OUR bows shall be hung up and we shall, in the words of Micah, “study war no more.”

That is the hope and the promise… that is what I will pray for and work for… then perhaps the rainbow will be a reminder and a challenge to us all… put up your bows… work out the problems non-violently… seek reasonable and sensible gun control laws… will you join me, dear reader?

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