My husband went to get his pickup treated with an anti-rust undercoating — a necessity in Vermont where road salt is damaging to trucks. He went to a mom-and-pop auto store that just happened to be a gun retailer, too. (Yes, only in Vermont.)
When he came home, he told me about a conversation he overheard as he was paying his bill. The cashier was having a side conversation with a few friends and mentioned how great gun sales were. In fact, the other day, she had sold four guns in less than a half-hour.
I felt uneasy when I heard this. I felt a twinge of fear as I remembered hearing the recent statistic that Americans have purchased almost 17 million guns so far in 2020, more than in any other single year on record, according to Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, a research firm that tracks firearms.
People are afraid of the social and political unrest in our country. They want to feel safe and secure. They want to protect whatever peace there is. Yet the season of Advent reminds us that peace will not be obtained with a firearm.
Isaiah tells us that trusting in horsemen because they are strong and relying on chariots because there are many of them are not where our security lies. Real peace comes when we look to the Holy One of Israel. Security is found when we consult the Lord.
Living in a rural area, where I learned that the opening weekend of hunting season meant low attendance in church that Sunday, I can understand why there are those who bristle over gun-control laws. Having guns is a rite of passage for many rural teens. But I can’t shake how troubling it is that the rise in gun sales coincides with a recent FBI report that hate crimes in the United States have risen to the highest level in more than a decade.
It seems what Howard Thurman wrote decades ago, is true today, that “the panic of fear, the torture of insecurity, the ache of hunger” have “rekindled ancient hatreds.” These ancient hatreds, though, are not kindling. They are a raging fire.
Do you want to feel safe and secure? Then let us lean into the everlasting arms of the Savior — the One who was born for a world such as we live in now. Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice … Jesus Christ was born for this!
God, may a peace that passes all understanding enter into my life this Advent season. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
The work for peace is great, and it begins with education. Every year the Southern Poverty Law Center updates a national map of hate group activity. See the hate groups in your state at splcenter.org/hate-map