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Epiphany, signs – and guns


Epiphany is a season when we are invited to see things that we are not supposed to be able to see. To see things that require our imagination and invite us to suspend what we know about how the world works. The stories of Epiphany are filled with fantastic showings or manifestations – epiphanies of God’s presence. The season begins with the story of a star moving across the sky, and ends with a story of Jesus being lit up like a star at the Transfiguration. This last Sunday the story was not of light, but about a voice – coming down from heaven telling Jesus that he was beloved by God.

Jesus spent the bulk of his three-year ministry conveying to people in a variety of ways that they, too, were beloved of God – and that they too should be bearers of that same message and light– that people are beloved of and blessed by God.

This year, on the eve of Epiphany, President Obama suspended the current culture of politics as we know it. Brushing away tears brought on by the memory of gun violence victims, he announced executive actions aimed at reducing gun violence – and side-stepping a gridlocked Congress. His actions were modest – requiring universal background checks for gun buyers (supported by 90% of the general population) and establishing regulations for gun dealers who sell firearms over the internet or at gun shows.

There was an immediate outcry from opponents – claiming that the President is usurping authority that the Constitution hasn’t given him, or that he is trying to subvert the second amendment.

But as predictable as the negative reaction has been, the President’s actions have opened up the possibility of a broader and less polarized conversation – that it is possible to provide safety measures when dealing with gun buying and selling. That it is possible to bring out into the open proposals for change, which have heretofore been thwarted by well-funded and well organized forces of resistance. That it may indeed be possible to advocate for policies that move beyond a climate that places first priority on personal protection and a culture of fear, and instead reflects the Jesus-driven message that we are all beloved of God.

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