“This is again and again a time of moral and social reckoning,” Boulder, Colo., pastor Andrew Daugherty told his congregation the day after the mass murder at a grocery store located about 3 miles from his church.
“Who are we going to be? What would the wise and nonviolent Jesus have us do in response now?” he asked. “We need to let that question linger longer than a news cycle. And while it does, may God transform our suffering into spiritual healing and into the political will to actually do something to stop this from happening again.”
“May God transform our suffering into spiritual healing and into the political will to actually do something to stop this from happening again.”
“There are no words that match the emotions we feel today,” he said. “Our hearts are broken. God’s heart is broken too.”
A gunman wielding an automated assault-style weapon killed 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store March 22. That store is located less than a 10-minute drive from the church, which is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches in the USA and is a supporting congregation for Baptist News Global.
Monday’s events are “a tragic and traumatic reminder that even a regular, mundane errand of going to the grocery store doesn’t mean we can be safe,” Daugherty said. “What happened … has left all of us with a kaleidoscope of emotions, shock, anger, sadness, trauma, fear, grief.”
And that grief has “ripple effects,” he added. “How often this kind of violence happens in our country doesn’t make it such that we don’ feel it even more when it happens in our own backyard. It’s intense. It’s real.
“Some of us might even feel like our psyches can’t handle more,” he told the congregation. “I know that you’re hurting. I know that you’re angry. I know that you’re grieving. We all are.”
Sadly, the Boulder mass murder marked the seventh mass shooting in the last seven days in America, he explained. “Let that sink in again and again.”
In his video message, Daugherty called each of the victims by name. “Today we remember the 10 beloved sons and daughters of God who died. … God grieves the loss of their lives, these lives viciously and ruthlessly murdered.”
He also called the church to pray for the 21-year-old shooter “whose pain and despair bred more pain and despair.”
Daugherty, who is a staunch religious liberty advocate and serves on the board of Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, also had a sharp word about the nation’s inability or unwillingness to address the epidemic of gun violence.
“Gun violence is repulsively common, and we who are followers of the ultimate peacemaker, Jesus, are compelled to respond when this horrible tragedy and trauma happens,” he asserted. “The nonviolent Jesus we follow would challenge us to ask how an assault rifle should be in the hands of anybody — especially those who struggle with mental illness.”
“The nonviolent Jesus we follow would challenge us to ask how an assault rifle should be in the hands of anybody.”
Daugherty said that like the Psalmist, Christians in America today are asking, “How long, O Lord, how long?”
“And we ask it every time — every time a mass shooting happens in our country. The rhythm of outrage and grief like what we feel right now becomes more background noise. The gutsy gospel of Jesus might call us to say something like, ‘What if we put all the resources at our disposal to pour into mental health and gun reform the way we have the coronavirus?’”
This time, he pleaded, “after the news cycle ends, please oh please, … let us not become emotionally immune to what has happened.”
The pastor noted that the grocery store gunman used a semiautomatic handgun — less than two weeks after a district court judge ruled the city of Boulder could not enforce a ban on assault weapons.
“Boulder city council members unanimously approved an assault weapons ban in 2018 following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people,” he explained. “This is again and again a time of moral and social reckoning.”
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