Watch: Service of Lamentation for Gun Violence

Watch today’s Service of Lamentation, recorded at 12:30 p.m. on Facebook Live. A transcript of the bishop’s message during the service is below.

Transcript of Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe’s Message: 

On this day all across our country and world, there are people gathering, people talking, people arguing, and some people even fighting about what it means to be free or safe, what our rights are, and what the right response might be. It is hard to know and understand when awful things happen, especially to children and to youth.

I have been amazed over this past month to hear voices rising up in opposition to these young people who have stood up, degrading them and even threatening them. It makes my heart sick, because I think of Jesus saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” I think of the courage it has taken for these youth first to be shot at, then to see the blood of their classmates scattered around. To lose friends and classmates and companions and fellow participants in sports. And then amid all that confusion and the media frenzy, the arguing adults, the Republicans on one side and Democrats on another, the people for and against guns, all talking loudly into microphones, these young people have stood up and have said, “No more.” No more.

As a mother it does make me cry. Because it’s such courage. And who are we to threaten such courage? It makes me a little bit heartsick that adults aren’t responding with the same level of courage and hope.

Those of us who believe in Jesus and are faithful people, our safety does not reside in a person or a gun or really even a law. Or an army. Our safety is in Jesus Christ. Our safety is in God. And what surrounds and enfolds us and gives us life is the breath of God within us. It is something we can’t hold or touch or prove but it’s something we can deeply and profoundly know. It is something that as Christians we are called to proclaim and to live for.

And so on this day when so many are disagreeing and fighting, I hope we’ll take a moment of silence to recognize that love in our midst is greater than fear. To recognize that love is the only force capable of making an enemy into a friend, as Dr. King so rightly said.

On this day we have gathered to lament the brokenness that is the sin of the human condition. That we often care more about being right than about being kind. That we care more about asserting our own rights than the fear and even the death of the youth in our midst. For these are not youth of someone else. These are our children, these are our young people. These are young people that died at the prime of their life, who may have been doctors or lawyers or schoolteachers, who may have worked in factories or helped others. These are young lives whose possibility has been cut short, and so we lament those lives. And we lament our own brokenness as we struggle to understand.

It is not going to be our ability to fight that is going to save us. It is going to be our ability to embrace love. And to fight the fear not with aggression but with devotion.

So as Christians we have come together to lament and to seek forgiveness. We’ve also come together to remember whose we are. To remember where our strength and our power come from. To remember that these passages of Scripture are not meant only for us to hear, and are not meant for us just to find comfort in them.

But they’re meant for us to live.

They’re meant for us to proclaim.


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