The scenes look hauntingly similar: devastated faces of survivors as they huddle together, clamoring for caring contact, their hands over their mouths, fear etched in their expressions. There are the law enforcement officers in their riot gear; there are armored vehicles, flashing lights, ambulances, fire trucks and news crews. The yellow tape eventually gets pulled across the landscape marking a border forever breached by violence. Then come the numbers, the body count, the injured, how many assailants, weapons unloaded and how fast. There are the details, the who, what, where, when and how – and all the speculation about the why.
These scenes are too familiar, too frequent, too here-we-go-again. But Lord, as familiar as this carnage is, as similar the news reports, photos and horror, each person impacted, each gut-twisting time, is unique, beloved, known to you. The LGBTQ community in Orlando, Florida; students in Blacksburg, Virginia; the children in Newtown, Connecticut; the movie goers in Aurora, Colorado; the co-workers in San Bernadino, California; the church-goers in Charleston, South Carolina: each one’s story is non-repeatable, each one’s gifts non-replaceable, each one’s loss irreparable.
How, long, O Lord, how long? How long will we lament? Will we grow so familiar with these all-too-familiar scenes that we will forget that each person impacted by them is unique, beloved, unable to be duplicated?
Give us the courage to say, not just with our words, but with our action, advocacy, energy and resources: NO MORE. Not one more time.
As we pray comfort for those most closely embroiled in this latest mass shooting, we pray boldness for all of us watching the devastated faces, the first responders, the ambulances and news crews to do what needs to be done to transform swords into plowshares and usher in your longed for peace.