It is about domestic violence.
It is about mental health.
It is about gun legislation.
It is about the brokenness of our human condition, the evil that enslaves us, and God’s never-failing call to come back, come Home, come and be healed.
The shooting event in Sutherland Springs that took place on Sunday morning was another act of violence in our country- this time against a small community of a people that, in the span of a few minutes, lost 26 of their family and friends and saw 20 others wounded. The entire community was spiritually wounded by this assault- an attack that took place in a church, known as a place of sanctuary and peace. Pray for the souls of the departed, that they rest in peace and that those who mourn are comforted.
In the aftermath of an event like this, we grieve, and we look for ways to prevent similar tragedies. Solutions that look for increased gun control, mental health care, and veterans’ healthcare are all important as we find ways to strengthen our society’s response to evil and disease. America is called upon, now, to do this work- in our legislature and in social agencies across our country- as we create and fund programs to bind up those who are broken. We are also called to give preventative instruction and education to our children who, in their formative years, need to learn measures of appropriate self-care.
The tragedy at Sutherland Spring’s First Baptist Church is the 307th mass shooting (an event where more than 4 people are shot) this year in America. (gunviolencearchive.org)
Unless we begin to do something differently, another incident is just around the corner.
The spiritual call is for us to pray for God’s grace and light to fill those who are overcome with despair, that they may find healing and hope and turn away from violent acts. We can pray for those who do the work of healing in clinics and doctor’s offices, in therapy and treatment programs: pray for their strength, wisdom and success. We can pray for families, that they be sources of companionship, love and support. We can pray for our children, that they learn healthy ways of managing stress, conflict and anger. And we can pray for ourselves, that God will strengthen us and use us as agents of God’s healing love.
The prophetic call is ours, too. We need to reach out to our legislators to call for adequate healthcare programs that treat mental illness, to curb the availability of assault rifles on our streets, to find ways to assist veterans in their return home, and to assure that they are treated with dignity and respect and get the support that they need. This is the job of politics, and it is our call as the baptized to appeal to our legislators in the name of social justice to create a country where we can live peacefully and without fear. The social ills that plague us: poverty, racism, gender discrimination, homelessness and addiction, to name some of the more egregious, all contribute to the fraying of our social fabric; it is, indeed, our responsibility to make our needs and the needs of our neighbors known to those who govern and shape our country and to work towards constructive solutions. That is our duty as citizens, and also as Christians.
Because of my faith, I live in hope. I believe that the trials that we suffer here on earth are part of an Order in which we, as God’s beloved, have been made “lower than angels,” (Hebrews 2:7) and, yet, given great responsibility to strive for reconciliation and restoration. Our call is to use our God given gifts for wholeness. We also hope, knowing by faith, that we shall be restored in the fullness of time, looking to the saving act of Jesus’ Resurrection to show us the power of God’s love for humankind. This hope and God’s love will make all things new. Of this, I am certain. By this, my life is dedicated to God.
+In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Rt. Rev. Audrey C. Scanlan
The Episcopal Diocese of Central PA