Lent is a time for us to get ready. We are getting ready to enter into the “Mystery of Easter.” As we continue to get ready throughout this season we hear Sunday after Sunday about the covenants that God has made with us, the People of God, starting with Noah & Co.
After the flood waters have receded, God choses to forge a new relationship with creation. “Never again” are the remorseful and grief-stricken words God utters over and over while establishing the terms of the agreement and setting the rainbow in the sky as a self-reminder. These are two very powerful words.
“Never again” is the phrase I am hearing a lot in the wake of yet another horrifically violent attack in public, this time at Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Florida). This phrase has accompanied previous massacres as well; from a concert in Las Vegas (Nevada) to a church in Sutherland Springs (Texas). With each devastatingly tragic massacre we cry out to God, who grieves with us.
God spoke the words of regret and acted on them. God choose to hang up the “war bow” in the sky as a sign that never again would violence be the solution. As we grieve together as God’s people over the innocent loss of lives, we must ask ourselves what actions can we take to make “never again” our reality too.
It is little mystery why the mechanisms of change have been slow in the face of our collective grieving. This is a complex issue filled with passion, processes and politics. In the midst of the complexities I cannot help but be reminded of God’s response to violence, suffering and death in the world. God chose to act by sending us Jesus. A person whose life and ministry pointed people to God’s love and grace. A person whose own death on the cross, and subsequent resurrection, embodied God’s “never again” response to suffering. In the Mystery of Easter we are gifted with the truth that death is defeated, and that “never again” will we need to fear death, for we have eternal life in Christ. Our challenge is that, in the meantime, while we await our entry into God’s Heavenly Kingdom filled with life, we continue to struggle with the very real threat of death due to violence. There are no clear-cut responses to matters such as these, but God gives us a starting point – grace. Grace is God’s eternal yes to life in the midst of death-dealing realities of our world. Grace is also our call to action as we are made free to serve others in need, especially on behalf those in communities who seek the promise of God’s “never again” found in the Mystery of the Easter resurrection. Our grief, like God’s, can and should lead us into action to ensure that our “never again” means “never again.”