On the first Sunday in Lent, part of my sermon focused on gun violence, what I see as our nation’s obsession with guns and how that is connected to the second renunciation in the baptism liturgy, and about finding the middle ground for a conversation about guns and gun violence in our nation. Out of the mass shooting and deaths of 14 youth and three adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, our nation has seen two sets of responses. One set has come from the usual sources on their usual sides – and without much middle ground from either those who promote a right to bear arms/guns in the Second Amendment as being without restrictions or from those who promote only having arms/guns as being in the hands of the police and other civil and military authorities.

The other set of responses is not new but was heard in new ways this time around. The students of Stoneman Douglas were and continue to be eloquent in demanding a change in the conversation. They are calling for real conversation and a middle ground. They are old enough to speak for themselves. They are passionate out of the terror they have experienced. They are resourced in ways to get their message across in ways that other youth, similarly terrorized and calling for a different way of conversation, have not been. They are organized and they are leading.

Right now, Christ Church is not seeking to have a parish-wide conversation about gun violence in that middle ground – we have other important work that we are still doing, as well as walking our Lenten journey together and with Christ. But many of our youth are engaged in the conversation along with Stoneman Douglas students and so we are supporting them. Some of our youth may engage in the 17-minute walk out on March 14 – one minute for each person killed at Stoneman Douglas. We support them in doing that, as well as in having conversations with their parents and others about why they want to participate in the walkout. Some of our youth may participate in the March for our Lives, happening in D.C. on March 24. We are hosting youth groups who are coming from out of town and need a place to stay. We are also sticking with our youth and asking them what else they will do to engage in that middle ground of discussion. And we are praying – because prayers actually prayed are worthwhile.

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I hope you will pray as well. Pray for the safety of our youth and schools (and by “our” I mean all of them in our nation and around the world). Pray for those who make decisions and laws for eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to serve. Pray for that middle ground of conversation and practice that in your own conversations, both in person and online.

PS – If you want to see what our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has to say about this, watch his video.

If you want to see what our own Bishop Johnston has to say, read his statement.