On April 20, 1999, the Columbine shootings occurred. In the margin of my Bibles next to Psalm 11, I wrote “Columbine 4-20-1999”. I have 4 to 6 Bibles I etch notes into, sort of a biblical diary for me, and what I hope will one day be a legacy passed along to my children and grandchildren.
In the Lord I take refuge, how can you say to me, ‘Flee like a bird to the mountains, for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted the arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:1-3
Members of my last congregation were directly affected by the Columbine tragedy. Anne Marie Hochhalter was shot and remains in a wheelchair. Her mother Carla committed suicide near the six-month anniversary. Ted still mourns his wife and the violence committed against his daughter. Nathan still grieves the death of his mother and the tragic wounds inflicted upon his sister. Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) certainly impacts the family and it also changes the trajectory of entire communities for generations.
I made the naive assumption that “Columbine 4-20-1999” would stand alone next to Psalm 11 in my scriptures for the duration. However now with each mass shooting, the PTSS within my own being takes me to Psalm 11. Next to Psalm 11 there is now a cluster of events:
- Columbine 4-20-1999
- Emily Keyes, Bailey, CO September 2006
- Lancaster, PA Amish shootings Sept 2006
- Darrent Wiliams shooting 12-31-06
- Virginia Tech Tragedy 4-16-07
- Westroads Mall shootings Omaha, Neb December 2007
- YWAM Shootings Colorado Springs 12-9-07
- Aurora Movie Theater shootings 7-20-2012
- Newtown, Conn 12-14-12
- Arapahoe High School shootings 12-13-13
- Parkland, FL School tragedy 2-14-18
- Boulder, CO King Soopers mass killing 3-22-21
By no means is this list inclusive of all the mass shootings and deaths since Columbine. Lord have mercy upon those who mourn these acts of violence, and all the other acts not recorded here. Every time gun violence ends a life, Jesus Christ takes a bullet and reminds us the promise of Good Friday is true, we will never suffer alone, and death is not the end!
With so much violence and pain occurring repeatedly, what are the people of God to do? First, take inventory of the places in your own heart where you lack forgiveness for another person. Practice forgiveness and mercy wherever you can. Second, trust that our wounds will not be what ultimately identifies us.
To believe in the resurrection means we cannot stop at our wounds.”Patricia McCarthy
For the Lord is righteous; God loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold the face of the Lord. Psalm 11:7
Prayers: That violence inflicted by humans upon humans will end. For Judy Edwards who is having hip surgery today.
We invite you to the Zoom gathering for Lent Midweek Worship this evening at 6:30pm MDT. If you are not on the zoom invitation list, please let Vikki Luce firstname.lastname@example.org know.
Still in one peace,
Pastor David J. Jensen