Dear Grace Church,

This week I had all the intention of writing about “Minding the Gap”. This is one of my favorite phrases from the underground transport system in London. It was required because over time though the rail guage sizes remained the same, the carriages above the rails evolved. Some new models no longer fit the height of the older platforms, and so a gap developed between some station platforms and the tube train carriages. It has become a common call as people embark and disembark to “mind the gap!”. We have a refrigerator magnet to that effect – on our wine rack actually!

You can do a lot with the phrase “mind the gap” around Ascension Day. Jesus leaves a gap of ten days from the time he ascends to be with the Father and the coming promise of the Gift of the Ongoing Divine Presence in the Holy Spirit. A ten-day gap in which to get into all sorts of trouble. A ten-day gap to begin wandering back to old ways as the disciples did even in the three-day interval from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection. A ten-day gap for Thomas to miss the initial appearance of Jesus. The miracle of this period, however, seems to have been that the disciples had learned their lesson. They stayed in the upper room – not counting down ten days for Jesus did not give them a schedule. But until the gift of the Holy Spirit came upon them, an experience they had no concept of knowing. How would they know? By fire and wind, we would say. But then we are sitting with the perfect vision of hindsight.

They obeyed, the stayed, they waited. And God came through with an amazing promise. Their lives were transformed, and they had the power to take the Gospel to the ends of their known world. And so here we are as beneficiaries of their faithful patience, instruments of the same Spirit in our day.

God bridged the gap, though in many ways there are always gaps that grow between our faith and our practice God’s full wishes for us and the world.

What about the gap that has heartbrokenly opened before us with the killing of nineteen elementary school children, from the same classroom, with their two teachers in Uvalde, Texas? How do we bridge the gap of that tragedy with our legislative practices, and our prioritizing the protection of gun rights over the those of a child’s right to live and be filled with the Holy Spirit as many of them were no doubt declared at their baptisms by hopeful and trusting parents?

I am a member of the Bishops’ United Against Gun Violence, a movement of Episcopal Bishops. We seek the promotion of sensible gun laws, including universal background checks, a greater watchfulness of those who receive licenses to purchase firearms, a ban of military style weaponry in the hands of private citizens; and the promoting of gun violence as a public health issue with the call for resources to research and study the impact of guns on our sense of public wellness. We also offer ways to bring the tragedies into our liturgical mindfulness through creative liturgies and prayer vigils. I would be glad to hold such a liturgy or vigil at Grace in the next few days.

There is more than one kind of gap in our thinking on gun safety. There is the gap of the fact that a parge majority know that greater gun safety legislation is needed, and yet in very few cases does that desire reach a pivotal point of guiding our election choices. I believe however in a God who yearns for us to meet saturation point in our tolerance of losing such innocent lives. If at each tragic stirring of our hearts to move with a beyond thoughts and prayers, a few more of us sign on with a local active group of Moms Demand Action, or Everytown for Gun Safety, or the Giffords group, or whatever you may have in your local situation – we are all a mere google moment away from discovering where we might give our energy in the direction of the common good – perhaps even as a church group – then the day will come when we tip over this insanity that blinds the nation with a Christ directed mindfulness that overcomes our indifference.

I am heartbroken that we must mind this gap once again, and wonder when will we see the reparation of our collective soul? As the reading from Revelation for this coming Sunday calls forth: “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!” After all, He comes to bind the brokenhearted, to comfort those who mourn, and to set our feet on the way that is right, to a compassionate justice, and a peaceful end.

– The Rt. Rev. Alan Scarfe