A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.
When I came home from the office on Tuesday and took our dog out for a walk, a neighbor was out mowing her lawn. I crossed to the other side of the street to avoid the mower, but she stopped, turned off the mower, and called out to me. “I just need a word,” she said. “I know that you and your wife are ministers of some kind, and I just can’t believe what happened in Texas.” We spoke for a few minutes about the school shooting in Uvalde, with over 20 people killed, and while I don’t think I offered anything all that profound, she was grateful for the chance to connect. “We need to stick together,” I concluded. “We need to work together.”
The confusion, pain, and longing in her voice has stuck with me, because I think it is widely shared. We long for an answer to the plague of gun violence and senseless death that impacts this nation more than anywhere else on earth. So far this year, we have had more than one mass shooting per day, defined as four or more people injured or killed by guns. This is on top of the daily string of individual acts of violence and the all too frequent loss of life from suicide and accidental shootings.
We may debate the causes of this crisis and whether the solutions are found in strengthening our mental health care system, expanding economic and educational opportunities for all, investing in and reforming our system of law enforcement, or enacting common sense gun reform legislation, but I would suggest that all of these are necessary.
More than anything, however, we need to recognize this as a crisis fueled by hopelessness. We need to embrace our calling as a people of hope, courageously bearing witness to the God who weeps with us and works with us to renew our fractured and desperate communities. We need to fearlessly examine our policies and our priorities, recognizing that our current approaches just aren’t working. And we need to pray; first, that God will comfort those who mourn and then, that God will agitate us into action, bringing us together to place our love of neighbor at the center of our personal, political, and congregational agendas.
Our children are dying; we cannot remain silent.