32 Stop being afraid, little flock, because it pleases your father to give to you the Dominion. 33 Sell your possessions; give alms: make for yourselves purses that do not age, a treasure inexhaustible. in the heavens where a thief is not so close, nor does a moth ruin. 34 For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be. 35 Bind up your hips; light your lamps. 36 You are like people expecting their haShem when he should return from a wedding feast so that when he comes and knocks, straightaway they should open to him. 37 Godlike in happiness those servants, whom when he comes haShem will find keeping awake. Amen I am talking to you: he will bind up he will have them sit down he will come to them he will deacon to them. 38 And if even in the second, or even the third guard he should come and find it thus, Godlike in happiness are those. 39 This you know: if the master of the house knew in what sort of hour the thief is coming, he would not allow to dig through his house. 40 You, you become prepared, because in an hour you do not suppose the son of adam is coming.
I spent last week in Dayton, Ohio. My plane departed at 7:15 in the morning. That meant I left my hotel at 4:30, having gotten up at 3:45am.
That meant that I came down to the lobby and discovered that, only a few hours earlier, a murderer had killed nine people about a mile from where I was.
The murderer, according to Fox News, used a .223-caliber rifle and high-capacity magazines. According to the State Rep. Candice Keller (R-Middletown) the killing was caused by gay people getting married and snowflakes not liking the current president. This was reported in the Dayton Daily News.
Several of my friends had eaten in restaurants near the site of the murders in the days prior to the shooting.
The killings happened in the “second watch of the night.”
Events like this are sometimes made to dance with texts like the one from Luke 12, and the point is made to be: “You could die anytime, so be more religious.”
That is not the point, and it never was. This scene is about the arrival of the Reign of God, and the Reign of God does not come with murder or high-capacity magazines in the hands of killers.
The scene focuses on being prepared for action, with lamps lit. The scene urges anticipation and readiness.
The question for me, today, is: “Readiness for what, exactly?” The “Reign of God” is not the “Second-Coming.” It is not “dying and going to heaven.”
But what is it? Here’s what I say. Today.
The Reign of God overturns a system that sets a high value on the sale of high-capacity magazines and won’t consider limiting their use, though they are not necessary for anything except high-body-count murder. No one else needs 100 rounds ready to go. The Reign of God overturns a system that refuses common-sense management of the ownership and use of firearms on the basis of a clearly tendentious reading of the United States Constitution. I’ve never met anyone who thinks that their right to drive a car is “infringed” because they have to have a license, both in their pocket and on the car. My first encounter with the NRA was in the gun safety classes they offered. The NRA used to argue that ex-convicts and mental patients ought not own firearms, and supported permit requirements for concealed weapons, all this without imagining that this “infringed” on anything in the Constitution.
And the Reign of God overturns any person (president or not) who suggests what are called “Second Amendment remedies” as a response to the appointment of liberal justices to the Supreme Court. The Reign of God overturns any person (president or not) who calls Neo-Nazis “very fine people,” even if he later claims to condemn racism (he would have been more convincing if he hadn’t confused Toledo with Dayton, but that’s another matter). The Reign of God overturns any person (president or not) who smiles and jokes when a supporter suggests shooting migrants and asylum seekers.
This is the second watch of the night. A general election is coming, and before that, the primaries. Wherever you land politically, there are issues here that call for a moral response, and for readiness.
And even more important than the election, we are part of a system that accepts violence, tolerates racism, and makes a joke of sexual assault and harassment. Sometimes we (as part of that system) even celebrate violence, racism, and assault. Watch movies, watch sports, watch the ways women are customarily treated, and the way they are told that, “If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, you don’t belong in the work force. You should go maybe teach kindergarten.” (Donald Trump, Jr., on the Opie and Anthony Show, 2013).
Light your lamps. Be ready. This is going to be difficult. But it is necessary. The Reign of God is overturning our systems. Be ready.