Growing up some years ago, I distinctly remember some of my friends having that old school and old fashioned, solid but loud mother. You know the one–she would execute discipline at ‘the scene of the crime’ instead of waiting to go home. Some of my friends would do everything in their power to make sure that this mother would never have to show up anywhere where they were, except when they got in trouble and needed help.
The faith community is that ‘big mama’ that we call on for help or dinner time, but otherwise want her to remain unseen. We live in the buckle of what is known as the Bible Belt, and with this implication comes the reality that many of us have at least a passing acquaintance with the church.
Lest I be accused of being a Pharisee, let me quickly get to my points. What creates much of the culture of gun violence is nonexistent knowledge of conflict resolution, among other things. You know, the things that ‘big mama’ teaches. But this is a choice, and those who call for the faith community must also be the faith community. What our community needs is to see people who live their witness in the 21st Century. If more of us had already made that choice, perhaps there would be no need to call on us, because we would already be present.
In this question of gun violence is a challenge to the community and the church. Jesus suggests a better way. In Luke 15, Jesus addresses those who think that the lost and the sinner should be left to fend for themselves. In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus shows that the lowly shepherd puts the 99 sheep in a safe place and goes after the one that is lost. In other words, ‘big mama’, the old school, no nonsense nurturer, goes and connects with that teenager who is lost with low self esteem, seeking love and assurance, and brings him back to the community, and the community accepts the teenager with love and renewal. The final gist of the story is that we must be or become ‘big mama’. Many of us avoided great pitfalls in our lives because of her. Now its our turn.