Dear members and friends,
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’” (Matthew 28:5-7 NIV).
This is an excerpt from the gospel for Sunday, April 9, the Resurrection of our Lord—Easter Day. This good news is repeated in every Easter hymn that we have already sung and will be singing throughout the fifty days of Easter.
I do believe that Christ is risen, has ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and that he will come again in glory to wipe every tear from our eyes, to eliminate death and mourning and crying and pain, and every present order of things (the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, Revelation 21:4 NIV).
I also believe in Jesus’s words, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV).
Despite this hope and light for me and you and our world, and the Christian witness to this gospel, I am in darkness, you are in darkness, our world is in darkness, and the darkness keeps on increasing.
Since January 1, 2023, 11,997 people have died from all causes of gun violence, 9,212 people have been injured, there have been 155 mass shootings, 14 mass murders, 74 children aged 0 to 11 have been killed and 168 injured, 419 teens aged 12 to 17 have been killed and 1,024 have been injured (retrieved from the Gun Violence Archive, April 14, 2023,11:10 a.m. CST, www.gunviolencearchive.org). These statistics include the three children and three adults killed in the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday, March 27, days before the beginning of Holy Week, and the five adults killed and eight injured, including a police officer, in a shooting at the Old National Bank in Louisville, Kentucky on April 10 — Easter Monday.
When will humankind see the light? When will we stop clamoring for guns as our savior? When will we stop grabbing guns to solve our differences and problems? When will we stop pointing the finger at mental illness in another person as the reason for gun violence? When will we recognize the three fingers pointing back at us? Honestly, aren’t we all suffering some level of illness socially, emotionally, physically, financially, vocationally, intellectually, and therefore spiritually because of the challenges and crises of daily living? (The Wholeness Wheel, Portico Benefit Services, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)). When will we realize that we all need help? When will we reach out to one another and talk with one another and embrace one another instead of killing one another with our hubris and consequently our words and actions? When?
Divine One, Holy One, Mighty One, strengthen me and all people with the hope of your brilliant light. Pierce through the darkness that keeps me and all people from seeing you, O God. I thank you and praise you for being the light of the world. I am anxious, but I do not have to fear the darkness because you are for me and with me, and in me. In the holy and precious name of Jesus the Risen and Exalted One. Amen.