This post is offered as we approach the one year anniversary of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary and a family home in Newtown, Connecticut.
Turn on the evening news in any major city, and you will likely hear a story about shots fired and someone dying. Thirty seconds later, we move on to the next news story or the next sports event as though the world will not miss this beloved human being.
According to the CDC, gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children (ages 1-19) and there does not seem to be a change in this trend. Quibble with the statistics if you must, but let us at least accept the fact that we are losing too many people to gun violence.
We have become numbed to these tragedies, at best, or callous, at worst. And all heaven weeps…
I invite you to take a moment and grieve with me. Lament the young and old, black and white, rich and poor, who have been killed by violence. But weep especially for the disproportionate numbers of young people we have lost to gun violence.
My heart rages against this. My mind cannot comprehend a reason that any person needs an automatic weapon on our cities’ streets. I grieve for families who have a brother or sister or child who needs psychiatric help, and has not gotten it… and we see the results. I pray for the anger that fires a gun instead of choosing to walk away.
As a chaplain, I have held too many sad parents and spouses and siblings and children and friends in my arms as they weep and process the finality of what has happened… Someone they love has been shot dead. And there is no answer to their anguished WHYS…
I’ve been respectful to my friends and family who insist that gun control is a bad idea. I will continue to be respectful. But I will no longer be silent.
I pray for the families of Newtown and others who have suffered a senseless loss. I pray for my fellow pastors, priests and rabbis who have sat with families and mourned this senseless loss. I pray for those who would glorify violence. I pray for those who defend a way of earning a living rather than admitting that the policies and laws they defend are killing innocents every day. I pray for a culture that cannot solve its issues without violence. I pray, in this season of Advent, for the Prince of Peace to come and rule in our hearts. I pray, most of all, for the humility to notice when I do not live up to the ways of peace.
I wrote this poem a few months ago, as I sat alone in the on-call room and processed the loss of yet another person due to violence. I’ve quoted from it now and then (I just didn’t tell you…) At any rate, may the prayers of my heart speak to you. Join me in praying that gun violence will cease.