Our national epidemic of gun violence hit close to home this week. Sunday evening, a gunman opened fire in the food court at the Greenwood Park Mall, just south of Indianapolis, killing three people and injuring two. The gunman was shot and killed by an armed bystander.
Let’s be in prayer for those who have died and are wounded, as well as their families and friends. Let’s also pray for those who were traumatized by witnessing this brutality, and for the families from The Table that live in and around Greenwood.
The relentless news of mass shootings in our country makes it tempting to go numb and tune out, even when the latest shooting happens in our own backyard. I’m also consistently disheartened by our lack of political as a country will to even try to do anything about this kind of violence.
But I want to encourage us to respond with compassion and prayer for those most directly affected by gun violence. The first faithful response to tragedy and evil is always to open our hearts to those who are suffering through prayer and lament.
“Thoughts and prayers” aren’t enough, of course (and many people use the phrase as mere sentiment, doing very little thinking or praying), but they are a starting place. It is good to hold those who are suffering before the presence of God in our hearts. It is good to pray that God welcomes the slain into perpetual light. It is good to pray that God brings comfort to those in sorrow.
Actual thoughts and actual prayers also lead us into solidarity and faithful action. As Christians we’re called to participate in and advocate for a social and political environment that makes it possible for everyone to live without fear of violence, especially the most vulnerable among us. So let us also respond, as is practical and possible, with advocacy and action to reduce the senseless gun violence that plagues our nation.
In the face of this culture of death, let us build resilience as a community of faith to resist despair, join in solidarity with those who are suffering, and stand against the insanity of our Mammon-fueled epidemic of gun violence.