Today we are processing a nameless horror. The streets of Las Vegas are drenched in innocent blood. Everything else should pale in significance.
The man who killed at least 58 people and injuring 515 when he opened fire on concertgoers Sunday night has been identified as Stephen Paddock
His dead body was discovered by police in a room at the Mandalay Bay Resort after he took his own life, with ‘over 10 rifles’ discovered on the scene.
It is time to have a long, loud cry. It is—as the book of Ecclesiastes says—a time to mourn.
Even so, the usual suspects will disgrace themselves. They will rub salt of the wounds of those who have lost children, parents, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, close relatives and dear friends. Please…somebody shut these people up!
Grief counsellors will dispense trite psycho-babble. Their advice will harp on environmental factors to help explain this mad man’s behavior.
Vacuous theologians who will tell us God has a plan in all of this.
Doomsday prophets will spew venom saying, “see, I told you so, this is God judging America.”
Some will politicize this massacre. Oh wait, they already have:
-CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, inexplicably pointed out Monday after the Las Vegas shooting that many country music fans are likely Trump supporters.
-Hillary Clinton said, “Imagine if he had a silencer.” Displaying a remarkable ignorance of how rifles work at a time when no one should be talking about how guns work.
– Congressional Democrats chose not to wait for all the facts to come in before immediately pushing for increased gun control measures. Instead of waiting, out of respect for their loss, these hacks turned them into a political football for their agenda.
-CBS fired one of the company’s top lawyers– Hayley Geftman-Gold—after she said she is “not even sympathetic” to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because “country music fans often are Republican,” (There are no words for how low this is.)
The short supply of comfort, decency, and sanity are a testament to how degraded America has become. But that too is for another time.
The families and friends of those murdered should not be in the middle of religious, psychological or political debates. They should not be click bait for internet trolls. This behavior is beyond disgusting.
What then, do they need to hear?
They need to hear us say that we know this is an unspeakable loss and tragedy. It is a loss that cannot be calculated. Not a day will go by for the rest of their life where they will not feel the loss. It is an insult not to realize this. We must, as the Word of God says, “weep with them that weep.” Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus—feeling the sorrow of Martha and Mary—even though He would raise Lazarus from the dead.
We must tell them that we do not know how they feel. How can we? Even those of us who have suffered great loss cannot possibly say we know how this horror is crashing into their souls. We must tell them how sorry we are for a loss we can’t imagine.
God didn’t do this. Telling them this is the hardest part. Jesus settled the question when He instructed us on how to pray: “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” These words presuppose that, in many ways, and in many situations, God’s will is not being done on Earth.
We must let them express their anger toward God but we must not discredit God. They will soon be reaching out to Him. We cannot cut off that lifeline.
Lastly, we must admit the existence of evil. This man chose evil. He willingly surrendered to the dark undertow of evil. Don’t blame his upbringing. Plenty of us have had horrendous childhoods and didn’t resort to mass murder. This was pure evil.
For me to appropriate this massacre as a sermon on America’s decadence would also be wrong. That comes later. The right thing to do is for the nation to wrap its collective arms around these innocent people in the grip of unrelenting sadness and grief.
As the Desert News said, “Even if citizens and politicians cannot find common ground on political issues, they can search out common ground in the manner they engage with each other. For now, the nation can unite in prayer and care for victims and their families. They can support those who mourn the loss of loved ones and they can try to bring about greater peace even amidst the chaos caused by such unconscionable evil.” Amen