Grace and Peace to you, dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus.
I was awakened early this morning with the news of the mass shooting in Dayton. I was stunned. Perhaps I should not have been, but it always seems even more chilling the closer it gets to home. All of this as we were all trying to make sense of the shooting in El Paso, Texas, barely 12 hours before. This tragedy in Dayton is one of hundreds of mass shootings in the US in 2019. It now adds to the scores upon scores of mass shootings across decades.
It continues to be unthinkable that going about the ordinary activities of life is dangerous. It is nevertheless sobering. We must find ways to act sensibly, faithfully and hopefully to make mass shootings a thing of the past. These mass shootings understandably draw our attention. But keep in mind they are hardly the long list of all of the violent acts that took place in the same 24 hour period. This includes the attempt to plow an automobile into a crowd of peaceful protesters witnessing against violence in Wisconsin.
So this morning as you gather to worship in congregations across West Ohio, please include all of this in your prayers. Remember the victims and their families, the first responders, the perpetrators and the larger community. Pray also for increased resolve to act to reform public policies that makes access to weapons too easy and to mental health resources too difficult. Work to be the church in your community that is so engaged that you really do know all your neighbors and are seen by all as a resource to heal, transform and build communities.
Gracious God, we confess that "it does indeed feel like too much." We want to run and hide when we are not shouting our outrage and helplessness. Quiet our hearts and "bid our anxious fears subside" that we might respond with courage to your summons to join you in the power of the Spirit to be present, to mend and restore. We pray through Jesus the Christ. Amen.
+Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
Click here for ways United Methodists can take a stand on gun violence.