Today at 11:32 a.m., precisely 48 hours after an 18-year old high school graduate murdered children and teachers in their 4th grade classroom, I gathered with area clergy to lament the violence and fear, to share our grief and to seek change. Rev. Adam Hamilton, Rev. Tom Are, Rev. Shanna Steitz, Rev. Emmanual Cleaver III all spoke, citing scriptures that call us to do better. We gathered in a park, because that is where children play and thrive and run freely and children should be able to learn their times tables and long division without fear. Usually clergy chat a lot. We are talkers. But the air felt heavy and the mood of despair was almost overwhelming. We were quiet. Solemn.

Rev. Hamilton reports that many of us agree – regardless of our politics – on some positive next steps, but our elected officials do not act. For example he shared that his church conducted a study in which 5,200 folks responded. In the study, 85 percent of those who own guns and 96 percent of those who do not own guns agree that someone should have to pass a gun safety course before receiving a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Yet Kansas and Missouri do not have this requirement. Many states require an online safety course to operate a personal watercraft, to get a drivers license, but no safety courses for those who would buy lethal weapons.

Rev Stietz cited Jesus’ call for us to be “peacemakers” in the Sermon on the Mount. So what will each of us do to make peace in a nation where guns are the leading cause of death among the young? And Rev. Are said, “No nation of honor sacrifices its children like this.”  Rev. Cleaver called upon us to come together and work together both by advocating for better legislation and creating the conditions in our society for improved access to mental health.

Later in the day I was the “chaplain” at city hall and offered the invocation for the Kansas City Council meeting. I prayed:

Sweet Spirit of Life, you water the earth and you nourish our souls. You weep with us when children breathe their last in a 4th grade classroom in Uvalde, Texas. You rage with us over the senseless violence. How do you get up every morning oh God, how do you keep hoping? How do you keep trusting that humanity will get it right?…Rise up in us, fill us with the love and light that cannot be extinguished. Grant us courage to build a better world.

Grace and Peace,

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