#wearorange - Reflections 6-2-2021

Texts for June 6, 2021
Second Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 3:8-15
Psalm 130
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35

This week the first lesson from Genesis 3. It is the origin story of why, regardless of good intentions, things go awry so quickly in our actions and relationships. Have you ever asked that about humankind? Or maybe about someone you know? Or maybe about yourself? What is it about us that means we choose do to the unhelpful, unkind, downright awful things we regularly do?

The message of grace, however, is that God loves us anyway. God did not smite/kill the two in the garden – heck, God didn’t even smite the snake. There were hard consequences, yes, but that didn’t stop God from loving the creation that came from God’s hand. And later working Christ’s reconciliation in it.

June 4th National Gun Violence Awareness Day. As has been true most of this past year, events and observances on are online. But participants are still encouraged to wear orange that day to recognize that gun violence has not gone away. Sometimes it feels like we have a multiple-victim shooting every day. But remember that those higher profile shootings tend to hide the fact that lower profile incidents, such as interpersonal disputes or domestic violence incidents are on the rise as well.

Why orange? Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 — just one week after performing at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, they asked us to stand up, speak out, and Wear Orange to raise awareness about gun violence.

I’ve worn an orange t-shirt on this day for a few years. I wear orange because I do believe that we can end gun violence, at least much of it. It will take work and conversation, courage and hope. 

Fairly early in its existence, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (of which Gloria Dei is a part) met in assembly and created a message that we are a church is committed to society for the sake of all, addressing situations from disasters to social policies. One of the ways we respond is through “moral deliberation”, especially of difficult social issues facing society. Moral deliberation means that “the way we talk and with whom we talk is critical” and that we especially need to be conversation/deliberation with those who may disagree with us. We must also include “the voices of those who have particular interests at stake or who suffer from the consequences”.

Gloria Dei was all set for a big emphasis on gun violence in Lent of 2020. We had prepared daily devotionals, were going to read and discuss the book Beating Guns: Hope for People Weary of Violence, and to meditate on related scriptures during our weekly worship service. Then COVID 19 hit and everything shut down... including our multi-media emphasis on gun violence. But please know that gun violence didn’t shut down. Our country reached a peak of multiple-victim shootings when the pandemic started and remained higher than any year since 2014.

3 years ago, I wrote: We need to get started in our churches and communities on deliberations about gun violence. Gun violence is increasing each year; doing nothing isn’t an answer. We need to talk to each other with respect. We need to hear each other with respect. And we need to remember that when things go awry in the conversations with our neighbors, we can confess our missteps, and try again. God moves us toward continuing reconciliation with others (and creation, and God, and ourselves).

Still true.

Here’s a final thought from another message, this one on community violence, written by the ELCA in 1994.
Before God, we all are in captivity to sin, and in need of God’s mercy. Some have committed acts of violence. Others have been sinned against through acts of violence. Still others are overwhelmed by fears of violence. In proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, healing, and new life, the church addresses the ultimate root of violence. Through his death, Christ broke down the dividing walls of hostility, fear, and violence between people, reconciling us to God and one another (Eph. 2:13-17).

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245