This blog is based on the homily I preached at the 8:00 am service on December 15, 2013.

Advent is a time when we see how the kingdom of God is here and not yet fully present. Our readings on Sundays, particularly from the Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament), remind us that people across the centuries have been waiting for the deserts to bloom, the deaf to hear, and those who hunger to be made full. Some days I am full of hope that the kingdom of heaven is being made manifest on earth. And then other days I am full of deep sighs at how far we are from that vision. This past week was one of those.

We are at the one year anniversary of the terrible shootings and deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. And just this past week, there was another school shooting. The niece of a parishioner was in gym class at the time, sheltering in place, and then her class waited with a SWAT team member until the all-clear was given. I think about one of the girls who was in the youth group at my first parish. She is now a grown woman and a teacher at the middle school in Newtown. One year ago, it could have been her.

There is gun violence each and every day on the streets of cities, suburbs, and towns of the United States. There is gun violence in schools, workplaces, and homes. There is much that we do not hear about on the news or in the papers and we can feel far removed from it. Yet this violence touches our lives. The statistics are startling and saddening.

The CDC reports that in 2010, a total of 2,694 children and teens were killed in gun violence, out of a total of 31,672 gun deaths.

There have been 26 shootings at schools – elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as colleges – since Newtown.

There are over 3.5 times as many licensed firearms dealers than grocery stores in the United States.

Sigh.

I firmly believe that it is for us to be Christ’s hands in action in the world. You and I are called to speak the prophetic word of God’s truth for the world. Those of us who have a voice of power are asked to use it to call for change.  There are many situations that need a strong dose of God’s healing. You and I are to make it happen.

In this week, what is one thing that you can do, one concrete thing you can do, to make the kingdom of God manifest on earth? Now that you’ve thought of it, go and do it!

 

Source for statistics:  http://www.salon.com/2013/12/14/after_newtown_a_look_at_guns_in_america_partner/