Third Sunday in Advent

At St. Marys’s this past week, our Advent theme was peace will stamp out war. I am mindful of the many kinds of wars we experience, beginning with the wars within ourselves and in our relationships. These are a very good place to begin our stamping out.With Jesus’ help. 

I am reminded today of the variety of weapons we use in our individual wars.   Words.  Apathy. Selfishness. Self-centerness. Greed. Fear. 

Then there are actual physical weapons. 

I have never owned a gun, fired a gun, or even held a gun except a water pistol, which I expect doesn’t count.  The only knives I have are in my kitchen. I have used my hands to injure, I am sorry to say. I am not without sin to be forgiven, that’s for sure 

Because I am not personally a gun owner, I’ve been intentional to listen to parishioners who own and collect guns to help me understand the passion for gun ownership. I do live in Texas, after all. 

In all of our conversations, we have been united in our concern for gun safety although I wouldn’t say we have come to consensus on what that looks like and how to achieve it. Of course, in my experience, if challenges were easy to solve, we’d have already done it. 

I hope we can agree to pray about the violence that leads to all sorts of war.  Then to listen for the answer God invites us to be to that prayer.  

Today is Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath and many parishes will use this litany for the Prayers of the People.   Will you pray with us?

Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in harmony and peace. Surround us with your love as we face the challenges and tragedies of gun violence.
For our dear ones, for our neighbors, for strangers and aliens, and those known to you alone, Loving God 
Make us instruments of your peace. 
God of Righteousness, you have given our leaders, especially Barack, our President, our Governor, the members of Congress, the judges of our courts and members of our legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God 
Make us instruments of your peace. 
God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders, for police officers, firefighters and EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the lobbies, the malls and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place day after day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims.
For our brothers and sisters who risk their lives and their serenity as they rush to our aid, Loving God 
Make us instruments of your peace. 
Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope.
For all whose lives are forever marked by the scourge of gun violence, Loving God 
Make us instruments of your peace. 
God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died, more than 30,000 this year, in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care. 
For all who have died, those who die today, and those who will die tomorrow, Loving God 
Make us instruments of your peace. 
God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Empower us to change this broken world and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Give us power to rise above our fear that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change. 
For your dream of love and harmony, Loving God 
Make us instruments of your peace.
All this we pray in the name of the One who offered his life so that we might live, Jesus the Christ. Amen

A Litany for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath 
written by the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine

A final note:  if you’ve gotten this far, it means you’ve likely prayed this prayer. I received word that someone in the parish I serve had been offended by this prayer and felt that it was part of a larger political agenda.  Please know. This is a prayer.  I’m still personally figuring out what it means to serve and follow the Prince of Peace and need all of you to help me find my way. I wonder if you do, too. 

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