This was taken from my last All Saints newsletter, you can read the whole publication here.
This morning as I listened to the news, I shared in the horror and sorrow that many of you felt as we learned of yet another school shooting yesterday. As the reporter lamented, do we even care any more? Have we grown numb? A part of me wondered if I had become numb as well? He bemoaned that this isn’t the first or even the second, but in fact, the 18th incident this year, though by far the most deadly. In times like these, it is natural to wonder what is happening in our society. Have young men lost so much hope that they feel the only way out is through violence?
As I continued to listen to the news on the way to work this morning, I was struck by what was, I am sure, meant to be a lighter piece about how a growing amount of fine art is being stored in boxes in warehouses as investments for the very rich. The report ended with the following conversation: “you just turned off the light, do you keep it in darkness?”
“yes ma’am, absolutely,” responds the man she’s interviewing.
The darkness of the warehouse stood as an intriguing allegory to the more horrific story about the most recent bought of school violence. As the story came to an end, I couldn’t help but think of our cultural darkness.
Is all hope lost?
Certainly not, as we observed Ash Wednesday last night, I was struck with a thought, while placing ashen crosses on many of your foreheads. Did you realize that these crosses are the antithesis of the priestly blessing? On your birthday or while you’re sick in the hospital, the priest prays “may the blessing of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost be with you evermore.” He gently makes the sign of a small cross on your forehead as a reminder that life comes from Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection three days later. The ashen crosses, on the other hand, tell us that we are dead in our transgressions.
As we moved from the imposition of ashes into the Holy Communion liturgy, I thought of how the Holy Spirit draws us into the spiritual presence of Christ. How, even though we are born into sin, in our baptism we are reborn into the life of Christ. We can cling to this hope, even in the darkest of days. Isn’t that beautiful? Though we began with a reminder of how sin is death, that then we were drawn into spiritual communion with Christ?
But what about the cultural darkness of our day? The issues facing schools in our country is overwhelmingly complicated, but I think there is one thing we can be doing as Christians. We are called to be beacons of hope. We are not to be stored up in boxes, hidden away in some dark warehouse, but letting our lights shine. I believe that if we faithfully follow Christ, he will change the hearts of those with whom we interact and be hope when they are struggling.
The gospel lesson ended last night with a reminder: lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Let us, therefore, store our treasures up in heaven. Let us be beacons of Christ’s hope in the darkness of the world.