The horror of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Ash Wednesday that left 17 dead and many more wounded continues to haunt us, raising many questions and fueling political debate around multiple issues. Regardless of our stark differences about what the solution is, surely we can all agree that something needs to be done to stop this senseless violence and to keep our children safe. In response to the shooting, our ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton offered a helpful statement. I share her thoughts with you.
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“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18).
As we live into these first days and weeks of Lent, we do so riveted by the news of another tragic mass shooting, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Ash Wednesday. My heart, like yours, is filled with anguish; my spirit, like yours, laments. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be consoled because they are no more, and so do we.
We pray for the inconsolable loved ones and for the shooter and his family, for those terrorized by what took place and those who are unmoved. We acknowledge our own failings and ask God to guide us in finding new ways to turn the tide together on both the availability of assault weapons and the lack of mental health care.
But we know that those things alone won’t solve this epidemic. All of us, including the church, must take a close look at ourselves. How are we cultivating a culture of violence, hatred, anger, and fear, and how can we participate in building a counter-culture where people can experience God’s intended peace and life abundant for all?
Lent is a time for lamentation, dwelling with our sorrow, and facing the painful reality of death. We take each step certain that God weeps with us, walks with us in our deepest sufferings, and in the end makes the ultimate sacrifice for us – through death on a cross. This is our strength for the journey.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton