After receiving the devastating news of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, I needed to take a breath. I took some time for tears, I took a moment for anger, I took a while for reflection. But on this day after the school shooting, the sadness, rage, and so many questions linger. I certainly pray for the 19 children and two teachers who were killed, as well as their families. I pray for the communities who have been traumatized by this devastation. I pray for the first responders and medical personnel who have to live with these haunting images. I pray for the family of the 18-year-old gunman and the utter torment they must feel. And, as I pray, my prayers keep drawing me back to the senselessness of these mass shootings that have become too commonplace in our nation.
It's not far from my thoughts that today is the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd. The injustice and all that unfolded after that tragedy still reverberates. And, the fact of the matter is there are now more guns in this nation than people. I agree with President Biden that it is time to turn our pain into action.
Jesus stated in the Gospel of John that he came in order that all may have life, indeed that all may live life to the fullest. As we pray, lament, and shed tears, we must also demand that our elected officials find a balance between the constitutional right to bear arms and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is unfathomable that our children continue to bear the burden of indecision, inaction and political cowardice.
As we look to our political leaders to live into their responsibilities, we as Christ-followers must also live into our baptismal vows. We must seek the courage to speak out and act against hatred, against violence, against all the oppressive evils that swirl through our culture, already creating the conditions for the next mass shooting. We must work to create a world in which all people are valued as beloved children of God. This is how we put feet to our prayers.
In memory of those killed at Robb Elementary School, I call upon all the churches of the Baltimore-Washington Conference to take time in worship this Sunday to pray for the events that unfolded in Uvalde. I also call on each church to intentionally take some action to address the violence that threatens the heart of our country.
Our tears, anger, questions and prayers will guide us, but let us also be guided by hope, by justice and the unwavering belief that we worship a powerful God of transforming love.
Blessings and Peace,
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling
Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware Conferences
The United Methodist Church