I don’t own a gun.
I’ve never even shot a gun.
So I understand that it’s relatively easy for me to say that we must address our laws surrounding the right to bear arms, gun safety, and gun responsibilities. Which is why I want to join in prayer and conversation with those of you who do own guns. Those of you for whom having laws changed may have a personal cost.
I write these words with the image of a woman with an Ash Wednesday cross on her forehead crying outside Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
I write this words after praying four times yesterday, with so many of you:
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness, the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives.
Our self indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people.
Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work.
And we prayed: We confess to you, Lord.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done. For our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.
And we prayed: Accept our repentance, Lord.
In January, when the first school shooting of the year occurred, it was my intent to post the names of those shot, and pray for by name not only the victims of gun violence but all the ones who thought that using a gun was the best answer to their broken and angry hearts.
I didn’t get around to it. Accept my repentance, Lord.
I believe that praying also requires my response in some way. I know that my actions may be God’s answer to prayer.
Accept my repentance, Lord, for every time I have not been your answer to prayer.
I am reminded of the words of the Daughters of the King:
I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do. Lord, what will you have me do?
Here’s where I begin today. Twenty two million children live in homes with at least one firearm (National Center for Health Statistics, 2000). There is a program called Be Smart for Kids that teaches ways for our homes to be safer for children and to reduce child gun deaths. I’ve contacted a member of our parish who is active in this ministry, and we will host a session at St. Mary’s.
As I learn the names of those killed and injured, I will list them on my blog and we can pray.
Today I pray for a name I do know: Nikolas Cruz, a sheep of God’s own fold, a lamb of God’s own flock, a sinner of God’s own redeeming.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.