There was the smell of death in the air again as we learned about the horrific mass shooting at a night club in Orlando. I received a text message alert on my phone as church was about to start. The numbers of the dead quickly spiraled upwards from a few to fifty. We prayed for the victims and their loved ones. This is becoming too common. Trump tweeted, see I was right about terrorism. And Obama should step down. We learned the shooters name and his Muslim connections. He was American grown born in NYC. He had a history of violence against women, Jews and gays. His Imam condemned his actions. Obama gave a somber speech. The Tony awards began with some heartfelt words against hatred of others. Facebook lit up with calls to prayer and other calls to stand fast against those who would use this latest killing spree to take away our right to bear AR-15's. Later that night I watched episode 5 of Night Manager based on a John LeCarre book. It is about illegal weapon selling. Nations compete for the most up to date and most destructive weapons. There is a brisk trade of the latest weapons between countries both legal and illegal. Do we think this will stop any time soon? Do we think that this latest action will make it any harder for some one with intent to kill to get his hands on a mass killing weapon? The Orlando shooter had been investigated twice by the FBI and still he bought his weapons last week. Roger Cohen in the New York Times wrote today that mass shootings with terrorist connections like this latest one could propel the West to elect right wing governments that promise to clamp down borders and evict "the enemies".
So, there we are - this small band of Christ followers - praying for grace and peace and hope. And taking communion, a meal centered on the death of One who brought Life. I thought of a poem I had read that morning by Scott Cairns.
"Every altar in our churches bears a holy fragment-a bit of bone most often-
as testament to the uncommon and genuine
honor in which we hold the body-
shattered bits of it, even when the habitant has,
for all appearances, gone hence. Each mute relic
serves as a token of death and of life's appalling
ubiquity-even there . It helps to bear in mind
the curious and irreparable harm the
inflicted upon the nether realm when graved
He filled it with Himself, and in so
its meager hold and burst its hold on
of which has made memory of death lately
less grim. Gehenna is empty, and tenders
these days and empty threat. Remember that."