A letter from Bishop Mariann about Uvalde

But Jesus told them: Do not cry for me, but for yourselves and for your children.
Lucas 23:28

Dear friends of the Diocese of Washington,

As we absorb the horror of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting and pray for God’s mercy for all who have lost their lives, the injured and those who are grieving, it is understandable that our hearts are heavy. Since the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 14, there have been 15 other incidents in which 3 or more people have been killed or injured by gun violence across the country. As in the racially inspired shootings in Buffalo, the magnitude of the tragedy in Uvalde is compounded by the youth of the perpetrator.

As I heard family members of past mass shootings describe the agony they know awaits Uvaldeans on the news, I saw in my mind the families of Newtown, Connecticut, who travel to Washington, DC, each year to advocate for stricter gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons that killed his children in 2012, hundreds of others since then, and now the children of Uvalde. The pain never goes away, they tell us. As one father said on television: “There is no ‘moving on’; we just have to move forward.”

Although the causes of violence with firearms are many, the common denominator in all of them is the easy access to lethal weapons. Until we have the courage to put the same limits on firearms that we put on any other high-risk product in this country, we can expect gun deaths to continue in mass shootings, individual shootings, and suicide.

Bishop Michael Curry concluded his carta pastoral after the mass shooting in Buffalo two weeks ago with this exhortation: Even in the midst of tragedy, even when manifestations of evil threaten to overwhelm us, let us cling to good. It is the only path that leads to life. As you gather with your friends and family, and at Sunday worship, pray for the strength to hold on to the good. But we must also fight for good, and as citizens demand that more be done to protect our elders, our youth and our children from such horror.

To aid you in worship, we have compiled a few prayers below, including one by West Texas Bishop David Reed, two litanies for after a mass shooting, and others. There is also a wealth of resources on the website of Bishops United Against Gun Violence (Bishops United Against Gun Violence).

For those of you who care for children and youth, here are two resources to help you through difficult conversations about what you hear in the news. As I read these pages, it seemed to me that they contained wise advice for all our conversations in these delicate times.

I know that many of you are holding or participating in prayer vigils and community gatherings in response to the killings. Thanks. For my part, I continue to pray and advocate for legislation that addresses this national crisis, as I have done today with Dean Hollerith and others around the cathedral.

On Friday, June 3, I will join a group of faith leaders to pray on Capitol Hill on Friday and urge passage of gun violence prevention measures currently stalled in Congress. Then we’ll head to church Washington City Church of the Brethren, 337 North Carolina Ave SE, for a public remembrance meeting and public demonstration of how guns can be turned into gardening tools. If you would like to join me for the procession and service, please let me know ([email protected]).

May the strength and mercy of God sustain us all.

Faithfully,

Bishop Mariann

A prayer for Uvalde
Rev. David Reed, Bishop of West Texas

O God, our Father, whose beloved Son took the children in his arms and blessed them: Give us the grace to entrust your beloved children of Uvalde to your eternal care and love, and lead them fully into your heavenly kingdom. Pour out your grace and your loving kindness on all who suffer, surround them with your love and restore their confidence in your goodness. We lift up our tired and wounded souls to you and ask you to send your Holy Spirit to remove the anger and violence that infect our hearts, and make us instruments of your peace and children of light. In the name of Christ, who is our hope, we ask this. Amen.

A prayer from Alden Solovy addressing the Covid-19 pandemic
Adapted by Reuben Varghese to address the epidemic of gun violence

God of Consolation
I’m sure you count in heaven
Just as we count here on earth,
In shock and in pain,
The souls sent to you,
One by one,
The dead of this violent epidemic,
As a few become tens,
The tens become hundreds,
The hundreds become thousands,
The thousands become ten thousand
And then in hundreds of thousands,
Each soul, an anguish,
Each soul, a life denied.
God of wisdom,
Surely in the halls of divine justice
You’re meeting the courts
Calling witnesses to testify,
to declare
compassion of some
And the insensitivity of others
In the fight against this evil.
souls taken too soon
Whose funerals were premature,
They didn’t need to die
who died alone
they will tell their stories
when you judge
our triumphs
and our failures
In these hours of need.
god of healing,
Bless those who are at the service of humanity.
Bless those who cry.
Bless the dead
so that their souls may be united in the bond of eternal life.
And grant those who are still afflicted
For this disease or trauma
A complete and lasting cure,
One by one,
Until the suffering ceases,
And we can stop counting the dead,
In heaven and on earth. Amen.

A Litany After Gun Violence
The Reverend Michele Morgan Mark’s, Capitol Hill

God of Justice, You have given our leaders, especially our President, our Governor, members of Congress, the judges of our courts, and the members of our legislatures, the power and responsibility to protect and defend us. our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For all who bear that responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, loving God,

Pueblo: Make us instruments of your peace.

Compassionate God, we thank you for first responders, for police officers, firefighters, and paramedics, and for all those whose duties take them to the streets, to the lobbies, to the nightclubs, and to the homes where the carnage of armed violence takes place day after day. Give them courage and good judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims. For our brothers who risk their lives and serenity to come to our aid, kind God,

Pueblo: Make us instruments of your peace.

Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from the violence of arms, of those who are maimed and disfigured, of those who are left alone and in mourning, and of those who struggle to get through another day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope. For all whose lives are forever scarred by the scourge of gun violence, Loving God,

Pueblo: Make us instruments of your peace.

God who remembers, may we not forget those who have died, more than 30,000 this year, in gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your hearts and comfort us with your promise of everlasting love and care. For our loved ones, for our neighbors, for strangers and foreigners, and for those known only to you, loving God,

Pueblo: Make us instruments of your peace.

God of justice, help us, your church, to find our voice. Give us the power to change this broken world and to protest against unnecessary deaths caused by gun violence. Empower us to overcome 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,

Pueblo: Make us instruments of your peace.

Finally, help us become voters and activists to carry our rage and change the world so others can live.
Amen.

Crying with Uvalde
The Rev. Maria A. Kane, Ph.D., Chancellor of St. Paul’s, Waldorf

God of our weary years,
Death has gutted us and left us reeling…once again.
The massive violence has pushed the people of Uvalde into an unrelenting abyss of pain.
Instead of planning last day of school parties, parents and loved ones must now plan funerals.

It should not be like that.
It should not be like that.
It just shouldn’t be like that.

But it is.

Our words fail us.
Our tears soak us.
Our anger consumes us.
Our tiredness overwhelms us.

May our pain become fuel for compassion; may our cynicism be a catalyst for honest reflection; and may our anger be an impetus for holy action, so that the tools of violence give way to the paths of peace.

Oh God, that long after the cameras are gone, your fierce love and tenderness sustain the weak knees and broken hearts of those whose lives have been changed forever.

In the name of Jesus, whose love for children knew no bounds and whose heart now weeps in agony, we cry out…and then work to repair the breach.
Amen.

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