I wake up early. It is not my preference, but I wake because it is the only time I can get a good workout in or it provides the few moments where I am functional but unreachable and unneeded by anyone in my household or in my vocation.
Something felt unsettled within me as I tried to fall asleep on Saturday night. Another shooting in another place weighed heavy on my heart. I woke up a few times during the night (which is not my normal), and at 3:30 a.m. I decided to surrender and wake up for the day, reviewing my sermon and spending some time in prayer. Like most people my age, I opened up Facebook absent mindedly. A friend of mine who has just welcomed a precious, tiny daughter into the world had just posted. “It figures,” I thought to myself, “that the person with the infant updates her Facebook at 3:34 a.m.”
Except that her status read, “Praying for Dayton.”
And so I began the searching. Google took me to CNN which provided breaking news coverage.
When I got dressed and ready to head to church, my spouse woke up just enough to tell me goodbye. “I love you,” he said.
“I love you, too… and there’s been another shooting.” I replied.
“Where?” he asked.
And with the same breath we uttered our hatred toward the bloodshed that had unfolded overnight. It is interesting, my relationship with the word “hate.” We teach our daughter that “hate” is not a word we use. But in this instance, hate felt like the only appropriate response. Not hatred of a person, but hatred of a climate in which mass shootings have become routine.
Even this morning, as I debriefed some of the weekend with Pastor Jessica, we agreed that whatever actions we take, we cannot allow our own responses to become jaded by the “normality” of these shootings. We cannot let apathy in.
I thought about this friend of mine from days gone by. What must it have felt like for her and her wife to hold their tiny, infant daughter in their arms as this news broke? I imagine it feels similar to the ways I feel sick when I think about children in schools engaging in active shooter drills. It probably feels similar to the way that Pastor Jessica felt as she processed this weekend’s events with our teenagers.
Our Bishop, Gregory V. Palmer, sent out the prayer that is at the bottom of this post.
Beloved, in the meantime, however, we must not let this become normal. The events and the emotions associated with them cannot become our routine.
Let’s keep praying. Let’s commit. Let’s act.
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 are 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. (BGVP)
Some things to spur action:
- Our United Methodist position on gun violence: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/gun-violence
- A book for people who are sick of gun violence: https://www.beatingguns.com/
- Bishop Palmer’s full statement: https://www.westohioumc.org/conference/news/bishop-urges-prayer-action-wake-shootings
- Senator Portman’s office – https://www.portman.senate.gov/meet/contact
- Governor DeWine’s office – https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/contact