The Parkland shootings have once again brought the issue of gun safety to the front of our national dialogue. This time, however, our young people are being listened to as they respond to the tragedy of gun deaths in this country. I am reminded of Jesus’ attention to the children in the Gospel, how he called them to him, used them as examples to his disciples as to how to be in this world, and warned all of us of the consequences of causing any one of them to stumble. As the young people of this nation seek to set an example for us all, let us seek ways to remove stumbling blocks from them – to open roads for their voices and listen to their wisdom.
On March 3rd, a group of students who survived the Parkland shooting met with a group of students from Chicago, recognizing the privilege the Parkland students have had in getting their voices heard these last weeks. Emma Gonzalez, from Parkland, said, “People of color in inner-cities and everywhere have been dealing with this for a despicably long time.” She continued in a tweet the following day, “Those who face gun violence on a level that we have only just glimpsed from our gated communities have never had their voices heard in their entire lives the way that we have in these few weeks alone.” These youth are looking beyond their own experience to acknowledge the wider issue of gun violence and lack of attention to gun safety, as well as the disproportionate effect it has on communities of color and the poor. Read the whole article here.
On March 14th there will be a student walkout to remember the lives of those lost in Parkland. For 17 minutes at 10 a.m. across each time zone on March 14, students, school faculty and supporters around the world will walk out of their schools to honor those killed in the massacre at Parkland High School and to protest gun violence. To register a walkout at your local school, go to the Women’s March EMPOWER Youth website.
Churches might consider offering a blessing this coming Sunday for their teachers, students, staff and administrators of their local schools who are participating in the walkout. If you have students who are considering this action, invite them into worship to be blessed by their community of faith. Even as Jesus stood before Roman soldiers and called for peace, so these young activists are standing in the face of a war economy calling for their lives to mean more than the profits of the gun manufacturers. Let us support them as they seek to have their voices heard. If you have prayers, liturgy or blessings to share, please send them to Karen Methot so we can post them on our website.
On March 24th there will be a march in Washington DC and smaller marches all over the country to protest gun violence and call for stronger gun safety laws in our nation. March for Our Lives information can be found here. If you are organizing a group to march, or are looking for others to march with, let us know. Also, the national United Church of Christ is organizing to march with youth together. You can sign up and get information here.
This has long been an issue for the United Church of Christ, and for the Massachusetts Conference. Both ucc.org and macucc.org have Gun Violence pages with resources, articles and blogs from across the years. In this moment, when the voices of some of those most affected – young people across this nation – are speaking up, let us listen. Let them not cry in the wilderness, let us create platforms and pulpits for them to stand and share their witness. Let us finally say, in this Lenten season as we look toward the inexplicable gift of resurrection, enough is enough. Let us heed Jesus’ call to put away our swords and seek the way of peace.
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