I tried to keep from weeping the last time I went through an airport security check.
I had to take my shoes off at the metal detector because one terrorist, a few years back, tried to light a fire on an airplane.
As I walked through the airport that day, it had been four years since my father’s tragic death in a mass shooting at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania, and no laws had been passed to curb the threat of gun violence in our nation.
I have to take my shoes off every time I fly an airplane while people keep dying from high-capacity and high-power weapons in our nation.
People often say that lightning does not strike twice in the same place. Yesterday, as news reports came in from Parkland, Florida, regarding a mass shooting at M.S. Douglas High School, from whence I graduated in 1996, I feared that it struck again for me.
Aaron Feis, an old high school buddy who worked security and as junior varsity coach there, was on my mind.
I checked his social media page after our Ash Wednesday service at First Baptist Church in Vero Beach.
Conflicting news came in about Aaron’s condition, until it was confirmed around midnight that he died from gunshot wounds, shielding students from bullets fired from a high-capacity weapon.
As one of 17 dead, the loss of Aaron from this shooting stabs my heart with horror yet again.
He was a hero, but his heroism comes at a cost that places responsibility and culpability on none other than our nation and our government.
For as long as we avoid discussing gun legislation, we will be the ones with blood on our hands.
We kill our heroes, even our men and women in blue, because we are too afraid to do anything about fulfilling that one part of the Second Amendment that concerns a “well-regulated” militia.
We are guilty of avoiding passing any meaningful regulations on weapons that have destroyed families, communities and the moral fabric of who we are as U.S. citizens.
Weapons that have torn the bodies of my father and my friend – and our children, children! – asunder go unchecked.
People have encouraged me to write my representatives, but I’ve given up on that. I don’t feel that I have representatives.
To whom will Senator Marco Rubio listen: to me or to the lobby that has paid him $3.3 million in campaign contributions?
The last time we had a mass shooting, President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said it was not the right time to talk politics about guns, but to pray. I am still waiting for that conversation.
I wish that our churches were also more vocal against violence and the availability of guns, but they too have failed in this effort.
My own family of faith is divided over how to approach common-sense gun laws, and our divisiveness threatens to make us irrelevant in leading on this subject.
We Christians have now entered the season of Lent. It is the time in which we fast, reflect and join Jesus in the wilderness of temptation and suffering as we head toward Good Friday’s cross.
Not many evangelicals observe this season, but I have always argued that faith without Lent misses something: We claim our crown of eternal life without the crown of thorns, a life of discipleship without sacrifice, joy without knowing the extent of lament, we celebrate Easter without crucifixion, and claim faith without acknowledging our fragility as God’s creation.
It is to the cross we must go, however, reminding us all that we follow a Lord who insisted those who live by the sword will die by the sword.
We follow a Lord who died on the cross innocently, with forgiveness in his heart, rather than with words of vengeance, because he knew that retribution only perpetuates a viscous cycle. He bore it himself, to show us a different way was, and is, possible.
Joe LaGuardia is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Vero Beach, Florida. He is the author of “Awe and Trembling: Reflections for the Christian Journey,” a book of articles and homilies. His writings also appear on his blog, Baptist Spirituality.