Last week, I explored figures from the church’s past to inspire us as we respond to the shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. I quoted Kaj Munk — a Danish Lutheran pastor killed for speaking out against the Nazi occupation — who called for a “holy rage,” “to restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God.”
But what does that mean NOW? What does that holy rage and recklessness look like TODAY?
When her Sikh uncle was killed in Arizona shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks — simply because he looked different — Valerie Kaur began a path that led her to the Revolutionary Love Project, a petition to commit to declare love for all who are in harm’s way, declare love even for our enemies, and declare love for ourselves. These commitments are not simply words but are calls to action to advocate for those who are left without a voice.
As a part of the pledge, we declare, “In their name, we choose to see this darkness not as the darkness of the tomb — but of the womb. We will breathe and push through the pain of this era to birth a new future.”
Thirty years ago a woman in our community, Viola January, concerned about youth from low-income families, started More Than Conquerors Inc., which promotes healthy relationships at home, in school, in neighborhoods. Through curriculum used in local public schools, peer groups and service-based learned, she has sought to empower youth, engage families, and enrich our communities.
In her commitment, Viola has chosen to not give in to the darkness. Through this work, Viola is giving birth to a new future.
In 2012, after their daughter was killed in a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Lonnie and Sandy Phillips sold their house and their belongings and began traveling around the country. Wherever and whenever a mass shooting occurs, they are there to be with the families of the victims. They are there to listen to them — not provide answers. They are there, because they know what the families are experiencing.
Lonnie and Sandy are seeing this darkness not as the darkness of the tomb but a darkness of the womb. They are giving birth to a new future.
In response to the shooting in El Paso, 11-year-old Ruben Martinez is challenging each person in El Paso to do 22 good deeds, one for each victim of the shooting. He and his mom say the #ElPasoChallenge can take any form you want: mowing someone’s lawn, visiting a nursing home, paying for someone’s coffee or just writing a letter to cheer someone up.
Ruben and his mother are seeing this darkness not as the darkness of the tomb but a darkness of the womb. They are giving birth to a new future.
All around the Oregon District where the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, occurred, notes of encouragement are being posted. They end with the line, “We rise by lifting others everyday.” Where bullets went through windows, flowers were placed. At the site of the shooting, Lutheran Church Charities brought in golden retrievers as comfort dogs for all those who grieve.
They have chosen to see this darkness not as the darkness of the tomb but a darkness of the womb. They are giving birth to a new future.
And what about you? What about me?
How are we called to give birth to a new future?
Paul says, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-19)
These are not words about a heavenly future. These are words of hope for our present time. These are words that see this darkness as the darkness of the womb. As we breathe, as we push, we will give birth to a new future, a future shaped by the Kingdom of God, a future found in peace, justice, and revolutionary love.
Be bold. Be reckless.
Hope awaits. New birth awaits. God’s future awaits.