By Pastor Manda
Thirty years ago, on January 17, 1989, a 24-year-old gunman entered Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, Calif., and killed five students and injured 30 other people. This tragic event prompted the California Assembly to respond by passing the Assault Weapons Control Act, the first legislative restriction on assault weapons in the nation. It also was a catalyst for a number of ELCA actions and responses to gun violence, its root causes, and its impact on individuals, families, and communities—including the 1994 social message “Community Violence.”
One of the many assertions in that message is:
“Violence breeds more violence. Incidents of violence stir up anger and a craving for vengeance. Fear festers an attitude of “we’re not going to take it anymore.” Increasingly, our national mood has been described as one of “getting mad and getting even.”
If that was true in 1994, it is even more true now, 25 years later.
In June, the ELCA published a resource called A 60-Day Journey Toward Justice in a Culture of Gun Violence. There is a reading for every day for 60 days. There are printed copies on a table in the Narthex if you’d like one, or you can download a copy here.
For the next 30 days, we’re going to publish some selections in our newsletters – different selections each Sunday and Wednesday. The violence in our community is affecting us; whether or not we’re aware of it or able to deal with it. This is not God’s will for us. God’s resolve for peace in our community is unshakable. We know this from the commandments (Exodus 20.13), from the epistles (Ephesians 2.13-17), and the prophets (Revelation 21.1,4). The cross and the resurrection have broken the cycle of violence, freeing us for God’s future and for one another.
Part of our mission to Proclaim, Welcome, and Serve is to let the Holy Spirit use us to break the cycle of violence, hate, greed, and fear. We can begin to do this by confronting the violent tendencies within ourselves and our community and cultivating practices of nonviolence.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reflections over the next month as you read these articles and reflect with the whole ELCA on how the Holy Spirit is bringing peace to the world through ourselves.
Much of the language of this article was taken from or inspired by the ELCA’s Social Message on Community Violence. You can find a copy of the entire social message here.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.