“A football player, a volleyball striker and an aspiring artist.”

So begins an article in the Detroit News describing the victims of the latest school shooting this country has experienced.  As I’m writing, we’ve also just learned that another one of the 11 students shot at Oxford High School on Tuesday has died and a number of the other victims are still in critical condition.  With news of each successive shooting, this is the 26th incidence of gun violence in a school in 2021, I find myself joining those who are feeling more and more despair.

In the aftermath of the 2018 tragedy of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, it felt as though perhaps something might change.  Student organizers all over the country held protest events calling for changes to the public’s response to gun violence.  An overwhelming majority of Americans (72%) believe that gun-related violence is a problem.  There also remains significant support  for a host of gun violence prevention measures from universal background checks to bans on particular types of weapons (62-87%). [Pew Research statistics] Even with all this support, aside from soaring gun sales and growing despair, what has changed?

This Sunday we will hear from the prophet Ezekiel, someone who knows well of despair.  The words that the prophet is called to share with God’s people, those who look around and see only death, point in a very different direction.  God continually orients the world towards life.  God’s reanimating Spirit can even bring forth life in the places where it seems to be most absent.  Even the driest bones will carry bodies filled with breath once more.

In the face of this growing gun-related violence, especially in schools, I long for these words to bring the same hope they brought to God’s people 2500+ years ago.  I pray that God is now re-orienting this world towards life.  May the breath God is sending give comfort to those who mourn these most recent student deaths and bring courage to those who can and must act in order to create real change.

May God’s peace find you this day. -Pastor Peter

Let us pray…

God, our hearts are broken with pain at the senseless deaths caused by gun violence. Families mourn, children live in fear, and some in our nation respond by arming themselves with more guns with greater capacity to end life. Our disconnection and alienation has caused some to turn to guns for protection and safety. We ask that you touch our hearts with your love, heal our brokenness, and turn us away from violence toward peace. Help us to transform our own hearts and to seek peaceful ways of resolving our differences. Let our hands reach out and connect with those who feel alone, those who live in fear, and those suffering from mental illness. Let our voices be raised asking our legislators to enact gun laws to protect all in our society, especially those most vulnerable. Let our pens write messages demanding change while also scripting words of hope and transformation. We ask this in the name of the God who desires that we live together in peace.  Amen

(Sisters of Mercy of the Americas)