Mourn with our neighbors, work for change that saves lives

Mourn with our neighbors, work for change that saves lives

Bishop Scott Mayer issued the following statement in the wake of the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs.

Words fail to express the grief and horror over the stunning loss of life yesterday morning in a small town in southern Texas.  While Episcopalians and other Texans across our state were at prayer yesterday morning, a gunman walked into a Baptist church in the tiny Texas town of Sutherland Springs and opened fire, killing 26 people ranging in age from 5 to 72.  Mothers and fathers. Sons and daughters. Friends and co-workers.

This happened in a town of less than 600 residents. This means that everyone knows everyone and probably is related to half the town. Tiny towns like Sutherland Springs are all over Texas. And the heart of these towns are their schools and their churches. Everyone goes to everyone else’s Fall Festivals, the Annual Fish Fry, and the Yard Sale. It’s what you do, to help out your neighbor. Our neighbors.

Our neighbors were attacked yesterday, while they were in church, at prayer. How do we respond?

Well, we pray, of course.  We allow ourselves time and space to grieve our losses – the heart-wrenching loss of life, and the loss of our sense of safety.  We support and care for our neighbors in Sutherland Springs who have lost family members and friends.  We do what we can to prevent such things from happening again.

We are called to be the hands and feet and hearts of God in this world. It is past time for our nation to have a serious conversation on why these shootings are happening at such a horrendous rate. We must talk about gun violence, and how to reduce it. Then we must work for change, change that saves lives of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and co-workers.

I join with Episcopalians across north central Texas in prayer, as we mourn with our neighbors.  I pray for peace in the midst of the incomprehensible. I pray for courage to live faithfully and to strive for change.

Read a statement and watch a video of Presiding Bishop Micharl Curry speaking about Sutherland Springs.

An excerpt:  I offer this prayer for those who have died, for those who are suffering, for those who are still healing from physical wounds, and the emotional, spiritual and mental scars. As I pray and invite you to pray the prayer the Lord taught us. I invite you to pray that God’s will might be done, that God might guide us to find a better way, to find concrete steps so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore. But above all, we pray for those who suffer and for those who have died. Will you pray with me?

Read a statement from Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

An excerpt: In prayer, Christians commend the souls of the faithful departed to the mercy and love of God. We beseech our Creator to comfort the grieving and shield the vulnerable. Prayer is not an offering of vague good wishes. It is not a spiritual exercise that successfully completed exempts one from focusing on urgent issues of common concern. Prayer is not a dodge. In prayer we examine our own hearts and our own deeds to determine whether we are complicit in the evils we deplore. And if we are, we resolve to take action; we resolve to amend our lives.

Liturgical resources

A Vigil in Response to an Act of Mass Violence

This order is suitable for use by a community of faith in the aftermath of a mass shooting or similar incident, whether locally or elsewhere in the nation or the world. If there is no Mass to be celebrated, this service may be led by a layperson, substituting “us” and “our” for “you” and “your” in the Benediction.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence: Pray for Peace and Unity

Welcome to our prayer service for peace. These days, we hear a lot of news about violence. It might be happening far away or near, but it affects all of us. We would like to see the violence stopped and see everyone living in peace, unity and safety. This is why we are here today – to pray for peace.

When it is hard for us to find peace in our hearts, peace with our neighbor or peace in the world, we turn to Jesus, Prince of Peace to show us the way. Let us take the next few minutes to reflect on Jesus’ message of peace. Let us think about how Jesus calls us to live this message: by praying for peace and unity, by working for peace, and becoming
makers of peace, as sons and daughters of God.

Prayer from Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis

Litany of Supplication
O Lord, we are undone once again. We are frightened, angry, unsure, fragile.
Hear us, O Lord.

From all that threatens what is precious: our families, our communities, our friends, our values, our safety, our right to live, justice for every life,
Save us, O Lord.

From grief that overwhelms us at the loss of those dear, grief at the death of our children and fellow citizens, for grief for an innocence we cannot recover,
Save us, O Lord.

From enemies we do not understand and who wish to harm us and others,
Save us, O Lord.

From cynicism and despair, from anger and lust for retribution, from self-righteousness and easy conscience,
Save us, O Lord.

From loss of faith, where we no longer trust in your love, giving ourselves over to rages of our heart and our world,
Save us, O Lord.

Come to us, abide with us. We cannot live save but with you. Come to us, O God and Creator.