Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Words Delivered at the 3rd Vigil to End Gun Violence 2015

The world feels very dark right now. The days are growing short, but there is more to it than that. We are living in an atmosphere of fear-mongering. We are living out a reality where not all lives seem to matter the same. We are living in an epidemic of gun violence.

And the worst part?: it is all preventable.

And so we come together to pray.

Kimberly Knight, a Protestant writer, shared the following as a response to this time of darkness:

No, my prayers will not stop the killing.
No, my prayers will not bring back the innocent.
No, my prayers will not relax the gnarled fist of hatred.
No, my prayers will not open the greedy hearts of those who profit from death.

But, my prayers can gently break the silence of despair.
But, my prayers can channel my rage at the machine.
But, my prayers can embolden me to be the hands and feet of The Divine.
But, my prayers can encourage others of faith to awake, arise and act.

I do not pray for God to send us a miracle.
I pray for God to remind us how to be the miracle.[1]

I firmly believe that God's hands are my hands. And your hands, too.

And I’m tired of political rhetoric of thoughts and prayers going to the victims of gun violence and their families when I see no action accompanying those thoughts and prayers. No attempt at being the miracle. Prayer is nothing without action.

Prayer – true prayer occurs when we are committed to doing our part as well. We pray to work in partnership. We pray for strength to stand up. We pray for courage to face down the murderers. We pray to keep the memories of our loved ones close. We pray for endurance to see this fight through to the end. 

A majority of the American population support sensible gun legislation. Many gun owners support laws that will make all of us safer. What we have is a gap between what the leadership of the NRA wants and what their members want. It’s a slippery slope they say. 

Let me tell you what a slippery slope is: it's when we condone gun violence by shrugging and saying: what can we possibly do? It's when background checks are deemed an assault on personal freedoms. It’s when guns keep flooding our streets unchecked.

This is the real slippery slope. This is the slippery slope to devaluing life.

You know what. I'm not just tired. I'm angry.

We should all be angry.

Leviticus implores: do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.[2] Well, here we stand and the blood is quite frankly pooling around us. It needs to stop. When is enough enough?

The world feels very dark right now. And so we light our lights. Different cultures and religions add light, make light, celebrate light as darkness surrounds them. Tonight is the fourth night of Chanukah, the Jewish people’s Festival of Lights.

We have this one candle that lights all of the other candles. It’s called the shamash or the helper candle. Well, it makes me think we need more shamashes in this world and, in this oh-so-sacred work of ending gun violence. We need more shamashes, more individuals willing to be the light, to light the lights, to not hide away in the darkness, but to share the light. To light the light for others around them. To remind them that they need not sit in the dark. Alone.

Chanukah is ultimately is about paying attention to the sacred. In a time when their holy places had been desecrated and their very lives and way of life threatened, the Maccabees rebelled and took back the sacred. They re-sanctified that which had been ignored and desecrated. Well, we need to take back the sacred, too. And that sacred is our very lives. And the lives of our loved ones. We need to end gun violence. Now. Not one more.

Let us take back our love of life. Every life is sacred. Let us be the light and light up the night. Let us be the miracle that our world so desperately needs.

May it be so. And if you will: Amen.

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