Since last Sunday, three different gunmen have opened fire on crowds of innocent people, killing at least 32 people and wounding many more. In two of the cases, the shooter’s motive is unclear; in the deadliest of these three attacks, at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, the shooter posted a hateful anti-immigrant manifesto not long before he began to kill.
These attacks feel relentless and savage, and it is tempting to lose hope that we will find a way to end them. But as people of faith, we cannot give in to despair. God calls us to stand resolutely against both the scourge of gun violence gripping our nation and the rising tide of racism and white nationalism that fuels it. God calls us to welcome the stranger, to pray for peace and reconciliation, and to work toward a world in which hatred, fear and the ubiquity of guns shape neither our national life nor our relationships with one another.
I invite you to pray in response to these evil acts—not as a substitute for action, but as a precursor to it. The website of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a network in which I participate alongside more than 80 colleagues, has a variety of liturgical resources for offering prayers, vigils, and other witness against gun violence. By following our network’s Facebook page, Episcopalians United Against Gun Violence, you can stay updated on opportunities to advocate with your elected officials for common sense gun safety measures with wide bipartisan support, including the ones outlined here.
May God give comfort to those who grieve the precious children of God lost to gun violence, give courage to our legislators who must act now to stop it, and give grace to all of us who are called to turn our grief, fear, and despair into passion for justice and peace.
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, p. 824