During seminary I worked
part time for Women of the ELCA at the Churchwide office in Chicago. My title
was “leadership development specialist”, and one of the aspects of the job was
to meet with Synodical Women’s Boards to help them with challenges they were
Early in my time
there I was asked to visit the Metro Chicago Synodical Women’s Organization. As
we began our meeting, the women talked about who they were as individuals and
what their role was on the Board. While I don’t remember specifics about the
struggles they were facing as a Board, I do remember meeting Betty.
Betty was one of the
women who was tired of losing children in her West Chicago neighborhood to gun
violence. She was tired of hearing children say they didn’t expect to grow up,
so there was no reason to go to school, no reason to think about what they
would be when they grew up. Betty was tired of the despair, the grieving, the
weeping. Can you hear them weeping?
She spoke with
others at Bethel Lutheran Church on Chicago’s west side. They made plans to
raise awareness and stop the violence in their community. One of the ways they
chose to raise awareness was to clean up a vacant lot and plant a cross there
for every child lost to gun violence.
This photo shows a more recent event,
but, unfortunately, 20-some years later, we still need to observe Rachel’s Day,
because our children are still dying as a result of gun violence. Can you hear
the mothers still weeping?
Let me name a few
incidents of gun violence in America in recent years. Some involve children.
All involve children of God. Columbine. Newtown. Mother Emmanuel Church.
Parkland. Las Vegas. Pulse night club. My granddaughter’s school – Aztec High
School, New Mexico. I am tired of weeping! Are you?
In many cases the
gun violence is a result of drugs and the struggle to obtain them. With the
drugs comes wealth and power. American cities and small towns are plagued with
this violence. Mexico and Central America are plagued even worse because most
of the government, military, and police are corrupt.
Children and teens
who refuse to sell drugs or participate in gun violence are tortured and killed.
These children, too, have no hope of growing up.The children are weeping at the loss of their
parents, parents are weeping at the loss of their children to drugs and
violence, one way or another.
This is the cause of
so much immigration by people from Central America. They are seeking to live in
a place where they all can feel safe, where the children can go to school,
where children can expect to grow up, and where adults can get a job without
fear of guns and drugs. They are looking with hope for a future. Can you hear
Two thousand years
ago the magi warned Mary and Joseph that Herod’s army was coming looking for
them, and they became refugees, fleeing for their lives to Egypt. Herod’s army
did come, and slaughtered all the children two years and younger. Can you hear
The quote in Matthew
is from Jeremiah as he describes the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem,
and the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children as the Babylonians
killed everyone in their desire to conquer the Jewish people. As the survivors
were force-marched to Babylon to live in exile, they wept and wept at their
losses. Can you hear them weeping?
We weep when those
we love are hurt or in pain. And we have strong feelings about those who do the
hurting. We are angry with the Babylonians who conquered the Jews. We are angry
with Herod and his soldiers for slaughtering so many innocent babies. We are
angry with those who use guns today to kill so many young people who deserve to
live until they are old.
I am tired of
weeping with no solution in sight for the children who are being hurt today in
I am tired of
weeping because more children, and children of God, have been killed as a
result of gun violence.
I am tired of
weeping with the parents who are so desperate they send their teenage children
thousands of miles away with a stranger, in the hope that these children will
have a violence-free life.
I am tired of
weeping with parents who have no idea where their children are because our
government took them away, doing violence to the children as well as the
I am just so tired
of weeping over hurting children.
We can get into
arguments about how to solve the gun violence problem. We can get into
arguments about how to solve the immigration problem. I have my own opinions,
as each of you do, too. My point is not to say how these problems should be
solved. My point is to say children are being hurt, children are dying, and
there is plenty of cause for weeping.
Can we not, as a
country, work together to find reasonable solutions? Can we not, as a Church
and as a congregation speak out against such violence? Can we not find ways to end
the weeping? Will you at least pray for those who are hurting? Will you at
least pray for those who are weeping?