Weeping blood (Genesis 4:1-10)
By the Rev. Wendell Griffen
Early on the morning of June 12, 2016, one man re-enacted the Genesis account of Cain and Abel on a massive scale.
Armed with a semiautomatic pistol and assault rifle, Omar Mateen shot his way into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. He then massacred 49 persons and wounded scores more before he was killed by law enforcement officers. The shooting at Pulse nightclub—a popular night spot for persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer—is one of the most deadly shooting incidents in U.S. history.
As in the account of Cain and Abel, the blood of the massacred and wounded in Orlando cried to God. The blood of God’s children cried out to their Creator. The blood of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers—predominantly Latinos—cried out to the One who has given life, love and hope to all of us. Surely if God heard the weeping blood of one person when Abel was murdered by Cain, God heard the weeping blood of those massacred and maimed at Pulse nightclub. God heard the weeping blood most clearly. God heard and felt their blood weep, and God wept! God wept first, before anyone else!
The Cain and Abel lesson in Genesis teaches that God knows when we hurt and kill one another. God knows when our hatred metastasizes into murder and mayhem. God knows when we have changed from peers and become predators. God knows when we have perverted moral freedom and turned it into a license to stalk, attack, brutalize and terrorize one another.
The blood of God’s children weeps, and God hears. Their blood weeps, and God is wounded. Their blood weeps, and God mourns.
If there is any empathy in us, we must also weep. If we are actually living in communion with God, then we must, with God, grieve about the weeping blood of these brothers and sisters. And we must share the sorrow that overshadows their family members, neighbors, co-workers, partners, friends and anyone else with a heavy heart because of the Orlando massacre. Shame on anyone—including any person who claims to love God—who will not be moved to righteous sorrow by the slaughter of children of God!
It is tempting to stop there, but we should not. We must go beyond mourning. When our sisters, brothers and neighbors are made to bleed, and when their blood weeps, we must mourn, but we must also protest! We must protest the wrong that they suffered that Sunday morning in June. We must stand with our LGBTQ and Latino brothers and sisters and ask of God and of one another, “How long?”
How long will it be before the people of the United States decide it is too easy for hateful people to commit murder and mayhem using firearms?
How long will people of faith ignore the relationship between hateful attitudes toward our LGBTQ sisters and brothers and violence against them?
How long before we admit that the weeping blood from the massacres at Pulse nightclub in Orlando; Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C.; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.; the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo.; Columbine High School in Colorado; West Side Elementary School, near Jonesboro, Ark.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and elsewhere in the United States resulted from the dangerous combination of hateful people armed with guns?
How long will faithful people continue electing and re-electing people whose policies and votes protect firearm manufacturers and the gun lobby instead of our sisters and brothers, children and parents, friends and neighbors?
We must protest our blind allegiance and idolatry to weapons and violence as the first and best way to make people safe. We must protest our own irrational thinking that the world is made safer when more “good guys have guns.” The world is made safer when more people are generous, loving, kind, courageous, noble and helpful to others.
Followers of Jesus must protest the “guns don’t kill people” lie. Our slain sisters and brothers in Orlando join Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, Mohandas Gandhi and countless others for whom life and liberty was stolen by gun-wielding hateful people. The families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown Jr., Jordan Davis, Sean Bell, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, Eugene Ellison, Monroe Isadore and so many more slain sisters and brothers know that hateful and fearful people killed their loved ones.
Our protests must go beyond customary “moments of silence.” The policies that make assault rifles available for people to buy on the open market and use to murder and maim our neighbors have not been produced by “moments of silence.” They are produced and continued by the clamor and cash of a worldwide cabal of weapons manufacturers. The protest efforts of the people who weep because of the weeping blood of our slaughtered sisters, brothers and neighbors must be bolder and stronger than the profit motives and advertising campaigns of the gun lobby.
We must also protest the culture of fear that the gun lobby feeds to justify marketing military weapons such as assault rifles to the general public. Self-proclaimed defenders of the Second Amendment routinely claim that homeowners need assault rifles to protect themselves in case their families are attacked by marauding bands of murderous people. The truth is that more people are killed by people they know than by strangers.
Above all, we must protest the wrong-headed and wrong-hearted view that we solve disagreements by killing one another, no matter what tools we use commit the killing. Our world is weaponized because humans are more committed to killing one another than to loving one another. Our preference for killing explains why people in the United States (including many people who claim to be followers of Jesus!) embraced the senseless idea of “pre-emptive warfare” as a strategy in the worldwide “war on terror.”
When you think of the weeping blood in Orlando, do not forget the weeping blood of innocent men, women and children killed by drones piloted by people sitting in remote locations who are not threatened by the slaughtered. Remember that the same President Obama who was mourner-in-chief in Orlando is commander-in-chief of the most deadly drone warfare campaign in world history.
Will we protest all weeping blood? Do we care about all and any weeping blood? Do we think God doesn’t care about the weeping blood of poor, brown and black people slaughtered by law enforcement agents? Do we think God doesn’t care about the weeping blood of people slaughtered because of their religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity? Do we think God doesn’t care about the weeping blood of people in the military who are slaughtered in the course of their service?
Yes, God cares! Yes, God weeps! Yes, God protests! And because God cares, weeps and protests, so must we. We dare not profess to love God, yet continue to allow the murder and mayhem to continue. We who love God have a moral duty to love our neighbors so much we not only weep when they are stalked, slaughtered and maimed, we have a moral duty to work to prevent them from being stalked, slaughtered and maimed. We have a moral duty to not only lock people who commit Cainlike murder and mayhem, we have a duty to be vigilant and avoid equipping people who bear the malicious and hateful passions of Cain in their hearts and minds with the tools they can use to commit murder and mayhem.
This is our duty if we say we love God. We have a duty to weep with God and the weeping blood of our slain and maimed sisters, brothers and neighbors. We have a duty to protest with God the culture of hate, fear and violence that is so conveniently weaponized by our laws at the behest of a worldwide cabal of gun manufacturers. And we have a duty to prevent hateful and malicious and deranged people from getting the tools of murder and mayhem that have been routinely used to shed the blood of other children of God.
Because we are one in God’s love with all persons, let us weep with the weeping blood of our slain and maimed sisters, brothers and neighbors. Because we are one in God’s love with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, let us rise up and protect them from being stalked, terrorized, defamed and discriminated against. Because we are one in God’s love with our Muslim brothers and sisters, let us rise up and protect them and their religion from being misbranded by hatemongers.
Because we are one in God’s love with all other persons, let the followers of Jesus weep, protest and protect in the name of the One who hears every drop of blood that weeps, everywhere and any time.
©2016 Wendell Griffen, New Millennium Church, Little Rock, Ark., from a sermon preached on June 19, 2016. Used by permission.
Photo credit: John Rothwell