Dear Friends: I have just come from the St. Thomas’ Church tower where our Minister of Music Michael Smith tolled our church bells 58 times to honor of each person killed in the Las Vegas massacre Sunday night – the worst mass shooting in our country’s history. Our nation is in shock. How do we as Christians respond as make sense of this?
As always, we turn to prayer. I urge you to lift up to God those who were killed and wounded and their families, friends and loved ones and the first responders, physicians and nurses who worked tirelessly to save lives. Take time this week to share with God what is deepest on your heart and to ask God to give you guidance about how best to respond. Arrive early at church on Sunday and pray for our country and world and the victims of this horrible massacre.
I listened to radio reports yesterday while driving to church to watch the Rev. Liz Costello and Music Michael Smith do a beautiful job of leading preschool chapel and celebrate the Feast of St. Francis and the Blessing of Animals. There was a great juxtaposition between the tragedy in Las Vegas and the beautiful event unfolding with dozens of children in McColl Auditorium.
The Nevada gunman was described as a “lone wolf.” Each day at St. Thomas’ preschool and church we work to create community and form relationships and healthy individuals with spiritual values and guided by Jesus’ love. This is our mission. We were put on earth to care for others and let God’s healing love pour forth into the lives of others. This is vital in a digital age where people are incredibly connected yet often deeply depressed and lonely. This is also why it is important for us to worship together and to guide our children to worship in community.
This tragedy reminds us of the need to change the laws of our nation in order to make the streets of America safer. I have just returned from Spain, where there are only a handful of killings each year. Guns are hard to obtain in Europe. We Americans are obsessed by weapons and violence as witnessed by the ready availability of guns and the proliferation of violent films.
The framers of the constitution never intended the Second Amendment to allow people to stockpile assault weapons. Attend a gun show and you will be appalled by the kind of weapons of mass destruction available to the average person on the street. No one in America should have the right to own an assault rifle, because it poses a risk to everyone. The majority of Americans and National Rifle Association members want to enact stronger gun laws. We must demand that our politicians take active steps to curtail the carnage occurring on our streets. To learn more, visit: http://www.ceasefirepa.org/ or http://epfnational.org/
Lastly, we must recall that no one in their right mind would massacre innocent civilians. The gunman was mentally unstable. Across our nation, there are many unstable people who need help. We as a nation must do all that we can to help them and to protect ourselves from those who are unstable from obtaining weapons of destruction.
In closing, please join me in praying:
Lord God of Heaven and Earth:
You alone can heal the carnage of violence and guide us when the worst that humanity can do has wrought pure evil and left us in shock. We pray for all those whose lives were shattered by the massacre in Nevada and for their loves ones and those who responded with great courage and compassion. Guide each of us to take action to make our nation a safer. Help us to care for the mentally unstable and to limit the weapons that have turned ordinary places in our country into killing fields. This we pray in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, our Lord.
Amen. With prayers and blessings for our nation,