“March for Our Lives.” You may have heard of this great demonstration that took place in many cities last Saturday, March 24th. It was initially planned and organized by the student survivors of mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. And it became one of the largest protests in American history. What the students demanded was simple and clear. “Let us fight for our lives. Let us live, rather than be killed by guns.” I think we better listen to this cry in all seriousness as a call to change our society where gun violence and mass shooting become normalcy in our daily lives.
After the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting, I read a terrifying article on NBC News. It says, more Americans have died from gunshots in the last 50 years than in all of the wars in the whole American history. “Since 1968, more than 1.5 million Americans have died in gun-related incidents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, approximately 1.2 million service members have been killed in every war in U.S. history, according to estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Can you believe this? America is truly waging the most destructive war against itself. 1.5 million! And this horrifying number is ever increasing at this very moment.
As a way of making a change to this grave situation, the students courageously marched on for life. “Why does this tragedy happen over and over again?” “What’s the solution to end this misery?” When people asked aimless questions and had pointless discussions, when we were in grief and didn’t know what to do, when politicians and lawmakers never acted for change but only sent their thoughts and prayers, the students from Parkland, Florida marched on for the precious, God-given, life of all of us.
And today, on this beautiful Easter Sunday, I see, there is a clear reason for us, Christians, to also advocate life against the pervasive culture of gun violence that has erected massive tombs around us. Yes, we also have a reason to uphold life against this era of mass shooting that has turned God’s vineyard of life into a burial ground. And here is the reason: we believe in a very special life that saves lives, empowers lives, and gives a firm assurance of new life. We believe in the robust life that has conquered the power of death, the everlasting life that has been raised and broken free even from the tomb, the new life that has become an unquenchable hope for all people’s lives on the earth. Indeed, the resurrection of Jesus is our ultimate reason to fight the good fight of faith in this troubled world. And the resurrection of Jesus is our reason to take hold of the light of life and be living proof of resurrection in this world, living proof of the power of life here and now.
For this very reason, therefore, we are called today to uphold life by testifying to Jesus who is resurrection and life. Today’s Gospel reading tells us the story of three women disciples. At early dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome came to the tomb of Jesus. They were the most faithful followers of Jesus who stayed beside Jesus along his trial to his crucifixion. They were deeply troubled when they saw the stone, which had once sealed the tomb, was now rolled away. And they were shocked as they entered the tomb and found that Jesus was not there. Instead, they encountered a young man in a white robe. He said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:6-7). They went out and fled from the tomb. They were scared and amazed.
Anyhow, the core of the message that the messenger delivered is simple and clear. “Go and tell.” Jesus is risen. So leave this tomb right now; go and tell the disciples and all the others that the death has been conquered and our life has become worth living with a great hope in the victory of our risen Lord. Go and tell it to those who live their lives under the power of death. Tell them, Jesus lives; Jesus wins. Go and tell it to those who live in darkness, in despair and distress, in fear and anxiety. Tell them, Jesus will set you free from your bondage. Go and tell it to those families and friends of the victims of violence. Tell them, up from the grave he arose. Go and tell. Live your lives anew in the light of resurrection. Save lives and empower lives in Jesus’ name. Yes, this is our call today. And to live out this call, we, the Easter people, should raise our voices today.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, today, Jesus is calling us to uphold life and be the living proof of resurrection to the end of our lives. In his book, Strength for the Journey, Rev. Peter J. Gomes writes, “Indeed, the greatest argument for the validity of the Christian life is the life of a Christian: we are the arguments for the resurrection; we are the living roots for the existence of God” (p. 281). Are we living our life as the argument for the resurrection here? Are we living our lives as the living root and proof of the power of undefeated life now? Let us go and tell the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and testify to his light of life in us, so that this light can shine on in this world. Go and tell! Share life and love with one another, and together let us fight against the pervasive power of death in this world. Jesus lives, so let him live in us! Jesus lives, so let his power of resurrection abound in our life! Go and tell. Christ, indeed, is risen today. Hallelujah! Amen.
Pastor Earl Kim