Friday, December 28, 2012

The Holy Innocents

Friday, December 28, 2012 -- Christmas
The Holy Innocents

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office

     (Book of Common Prayer, p. 996)
Morning Prayer
Psalms 2, 26
Isaiah 49:13-23
Matthew 18:1-14

Evening Prayer
Psalms 19, 126
Isaiah 54:1-13
Mark 10:13-16

The feast of the Holy Innocents feels particularly poignant this year coming so soon after the horrible events in Newtown, CT.  Last Saturday my friend and parishioner David Lewis wrote with an additional detail about his six-year-old grandson Jesse's death that day.  Jesse tried to help other kids escape and was killed running into the line of fire.  For his actions, he was recognized as a "First Responder" and given a "Commander in Chief" funeral -- a motorcycle police escort, mounted police at the funeral home and at the burial and a full line of police standing at attention at the funeral home, the church and the gravesite. 

Meanwhile, the whole world prays for Malala Yousafzai and other children oppressed by the evil violence of the Taliban.  And for the children caught in the horrible violence in Syria and elsewhere. 

At this moment, one of my heroes Sam Totten is risking his life trying to bring food to thousands of children and adults who are being systematically starved in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, Sudan, where defenseless people suffer indiscriminate bombing directed by indicted war criminal, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.  Sam is a genocide scholar and is trying to bring the world's attention to this horror.  He's also a good friend, the husband of my parishioner Kathleen Barta.  We pray for Sam and for those he is trying to help.  But we need more than prayer.  We need international military intervention to stop the genocide.

We also need some political backbone to help stop the continuing murder of the innocents in this country.  It's time to stand up to the bullies of the NRA and pass sensible gun laws.  Our nation is different from other developed nations.  We have more guns than they do, and we have 32 times the rate of gun homicides that they do. 

Hang in there with me for some numbers.  In the U.S. there are 3.2 gun homicides per 100,000 residents each year.  Switzerland ranks second among the advanced democracies -- 0.7 per 100,000.  Ireland and Canada, 0.5; Sweden and Finland, 0.4; New Zealand, Spain and Germany, 0.2; France, Britain and Australia, 0.1; and 0 in Japan.  Can anybody say Americans are 32 times as mentally ill and dangerously deranged as the other Western democracies?  Of course not.  It's the guns!

In the U.S. states with the highest proportion of gun ownership tend to be the states with the highest level of gun deaths.  The presence of guns increases the likelihood of deadly action. 

Grown-ups -- get rid of the guns in your own home for the sake of your family's safety!  Politicians, stop letting the NRA bully you and stand up to them.  Nobody needs military style assault weapons or Saturday Night Special handguns.  Guns are costing our nation profoundly.  Tax them, license them, register them and use the money to improve our mental health services and to increase public education about the dangers of gun ownership.

In today's reading, Jesus says, "If your hand or your foot causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away." (Matthew 18:8)  It's time to throw away the extensions of our hands -- the guns that are causing us to fall into sin.  Chop them up and throw them away.  Too many children, too many innocents have died.  "It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost." (18:14)


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to:

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you, bless you, bless you for taking an unambiguous stand on guns in this country.

I believe fervently in the separation of church and state, but the reliance on violence -- and the super-proliferation of tools of violence -- isn't just a political issue.

It's a moral issue. It's a FAITH issue.

Where do we put our trust? In our separate, individual stockpiles of weapons? Or in our communal institutions, that we have created together to safeguard our wellbeing?

Jesus told us that when we are gathered together in the name of Love, to honor the Prince of Peace, He is there in the midst of us.

-- Lesley K

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is another number for you, 500.
Chicago has the strictest gun laws in our country. Criminals don't obey laws.

At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the ONLY number that matters to me. 2. That is the number of children that God has loaned to me to protect and nurture. If you can pass a "sensible gun law" that in NO WAY hinders my ability to protect them in the way that I choose (not you nor Obama who gets full gun protection for his children) then I will talk to you. But ANY single law that limits the right to defend myself is IMMORAL. I have the God given right to protect myself and the responsibility to protect my kids. Sorry Lowell, you can't make any kind of argument to limit MY right, and you won't even try.


At 4:55 PM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for the comments.

There are thoughtful, moral arguments about how we might decrease gun deaths in this country. I don't think more guns helps, and there are certain kinds of guns and ammunition that simply need to be illegal.

To Greg and others who keep weapons as self-defense for your families -- you are probably putting your family at greater risk by having firearms in your house. It's been a while since I refreshed the research, but I remember the long-term studies that showed that people are 32 times as likely to have a firearm kept in the house hurt a friend or family member than defend one. I know that stands true in my own pastoral ministry. Every church I've ever served has had incidents of children unlocking cases and getting to guns or finding firearms a parent thought was hidden. I've known kids to be killed, blinded, and wounding another kid accidentally. I also have had several suicides that might not have been fatal had not the distressed person had ease of access to firearms.

So Greg, you've got a legal right to have a weapon in your home to defend your beloved children, but I would ask you to consider whether you are not just putting them in greater danger.

The rest of us would like to limit what weapons you might defend yourself with also. You don't need machine guns and mortars or other firearms that are military weapons. And the rest of us have an interest in your being trained and certified so that we might be a bit safer from your potential use of such a deadly thing. I'd sleep better if I knew you had to pass some background check and did not have a history of mental illness.

Guns are inherently dangerous and deadly. Some guns are more so than others. It's time to have some reasoned discussion about managing the carnage.


At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but I would ask you to consider whether you are not just putting them in greater danger." Here, Lowell, is the folly of debating a liberal. You here assume that I have not given this proper consideration, you assume that I have not already considered.

"The rest of us would like to limit what weapons you might defend yourself with also." Ahh, so you admit that you want to reduce my ability to defend myself and more importantly my children. That seems borderline evil.

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mental illness - hmm, would a person who clings to their Bible classify? Or how about someone who won't accept your narative about gay people? Or what if you oppose Obama's agenda and are now an obvious "racist", that is surely a mental illness. How about someone who believes the Bible is literal and not some fantasy like you Lowell? Are they mental?

And how many people do you think Obama and the libs can kill to make you safer? Does Obama get to use guns to remove guns so you feel safer? What is an acceptable body count?

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Lowell said...


Your comments make no sense to me. They don't respond to what I thought I said. Obviously, my comments make no sense to you. Otherwise your responses would be more on target to what I think I'm saying.

How about a visit face to face. I'd love to meet you. You are a faithful, passionate Christian, and I know I could learn from you, for you see things differently than I do.

Could I invite you to lunch? Or if that's not convenient, how about coffee? What's your schedule? Is that something you could work into your calendar?

my email is

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will meet you for coffee if you can answer the following question.

If guns don't make people safer then why do world leaders have armed security?


At 8:37 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Great Greg,

We're on for coffee. I'm free all afternoon on Monday. Tuesday at 3:00 works. Name the place. (Mama Carmen's on College Ave. helps support an orphanage in Guatemala.) If those days don't work, please suggest something that's good for you.

The answer to your questions:
World leaders have armed security because mentally ill people like John Hinkely, Jr. and Squeaky Fromm of Charles Manson's cult can easily acquire guns to threaten them. Those who protect the president and others are trained professionals with skill and experience. They are not protected by 2nd amendment patrons who think they have a right to a bazooka.

Look forward to meeting you in person.


At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So some fortunate people deserve a higher level of protection than my children do? Well, I guess if Obama and you want to take away my defense then you certainly can try.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

So, how about coffee, Greg? Will Monday work for you?


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