Wednesday, October 23, 2013 — Week of Proper 24, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 38 (morning) // 119:25-48 (evening)
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Yesterday afternoon was the first time that I’d listened to the news in four days. I’d been out of town for a family wedding, where we successfully avoided most political conversations and all of the heavy events outside of our joyful sphere. So, I didn’t know until yesterday about the most recent incident from America’s death-dealing culture.
We should add the story of the Sparks Middle School shooting to the verses in today’s first reading. The passage from Lamentations describes Jerusalem after its destruction, and after the deportation of most of its citizens to Babylon. It is full of signs that the future of these people is bleak.
The reading is set among crumbling buildings. The author feels that the Lord has “caused rampart and wall to lament; they languish together.” Perhaps you have seen similar settings—ancient ruins or abandoned urban centers—with walls that seem to be weeping. Perhaps they are weeping for the thriving communities they once surrounded. Perhaps they are weeping for the ghosts of the people they saw destroyed within or beside them.
The only people left in these scenes are hungry and thirsty children crying to their mothers. The infants and babes “faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom.” Their collapse into their mothers’ bosom reverses the direction of the flow of life: They should receive life and nourishment from their mothers, not pour out their own lives there.
Children also faint and die from their wounds on American streets today. The walls of our boarded-up buildings as well as our seemingly stable schools have plenty to weep about. Last week, a 12-year-old boy brought a pistol to school, wounded two students, killed one teacher, and killed himself. Many news stories have pointed out that the teacher managed to survive his military service in Afghanistan, but not his duties on a middle school playground in gun-ridden America.
The author of our passage today laments his people’s crisis of leadership and total absence of wise guidance and prophetic vision. When it comes to confronting the gun violence that holds America captive, I am tempted to the similar conclusion that we’ve been abandoned to our own destruction. There simply is no question that people with easy access to guns—and all of the people who live alongside them—are most likely to die by these weapons.
I wish that I could feel more hopeful than that today. But I guess that’s not what lamentations are for.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.