The following was written by Susan Thistlethwaite after the October 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. This paraphrase of Isaiah 58 continues to call us to both repentance and action: a perfect combination in this season of Lent in the church and this season of grief in our nation. – Reprinted from All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA.
“What do you imagine God thinks of all the calls for prayers for the victims accompanied by the constant protests that ‘it’s too soon to call for gun legislation’? It has become clear to me that one of the idols Americans really worship is the Great God Gun. And I imagined God’s response to this idolatry via the profound words of Isaiah 58:”
Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Why does the United States worship guns
Instead of God?
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
They ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
Why do you go to all these churches, but you do not see?
Why do you humble yourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your worship day,
And then just do the bidding of the National Rifle Association.
Look, you pray and then go out to buy and sell guns
And make it easier for many to commit mass murder.
Such prayers as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the worship that I choose, a day to make it easier to sell guns?
Is it to bow down the head in prayer,
And then call for prayers for gun victims?
Will you call these prayers, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the prayers that I choose:
to free the nation from the yoke of the NRA,
to undo the fraudulent interpretation of the second amendment,
to let those who fear guns in their neighborhoods be freed,
and to overturn the gun lobbies?
Is it not to share your opposition to out of control guns with your neighbors,
and to bring better policy to our nation;
when you see those in terror of gun violence,
protect them and keep them safe?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and God will say, Here I am.
[photo: Non–Violence or The Knotted Gun by Carl Fredrik Reutersward, UN New York, flickr]