They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. – Micah 4:3
As Jesus came near and saw the city [of Jerusalem], he wept over it, saying, “If only you had recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” – Luke 19:41-42
Church, I am still reeling over the mass shooting that took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. I imagine that many of you are too. Our hearts are broken by the horrific act of violence that took the lives of 19 children and 2 teachers. Families have been torn apart and a community forever scarred in a matter of minutes. While this shooting is particularly horrific because it was children who were brutally murdered, this is only one incident in the vast sea of gun violence that is devastating our nation.
As of yesterday, the Gun Violence Archive reports that there have been 233 mass shootings in the USA this year. 233. How can we even reckon with this? How can we not feel overwhelmed?
I share this prayer by theologian Walter Brueggemann with you, written after another school shooting (I have updated the locations). It has helped me to hear my anguish put into words. I pray that it does the same for you – and that it will light a fire in our hearts and move us to action.
Grieving Our Lost Children
another school killing,
another grief beyond telling…
We are reduced to weeping silence,
even as we breed a violent culture,
even as we kill the sons and daughters of our “enemies,”
even as we fail to live and cherish and respect
the forgotten of our common life
There is no joy among us as we empty our schoolhouses;
there is no health among us as we move in fear and bottomless anxiety;
there is little hope among us as we fall helpless before
the gunshot and the shriek and the blood and the panic;
we pray to you only because we do not know what else to do.
So we pray, move powerfully in our body politic,
move us toward peaceableness
that does not want to hurt or kill,
move us toward justice
that the troubled and the forgotten may know mercy,
move us toward forgiveness that we
may escape the trap of revenge.
Empower us to turn our weapons into acts of mercy,
to turn our missiles to gestures of friendship,
to turn our bombs to policies of reconciliation;
and while we are turning,
hear our sadness,
We dare to pray our needfulness to you
because you have been there on that gray Friday,
and watched your own Son be murdered
for “reasons of state.”
Good God, do Easter!
here and among these families
here and in all our places of brutality.
Move our Easter grief now…
without too much innocence–
to your Sunday joy.
We pray in the one crucified and risen
who is our Lord and Savior.