Response to Orlando Shooting

Categories: Social Justice

June 13, 2016.

Dear Friends of Christ Church,

Probably like many of you, I was shocked when I learned the news of yet another mass shooting in the United States; this time in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  I learned about this tragedy upon returning home after our two Sunday services where we celebrated our youth and their contributions to this community. There was a palpable and stark contrast between the lighthearted experiences of a joyful Sunday celebration contrasted by the gut wrenching devastation of yet another gun related tragedy.

For too many times now civic, religious, and national leaders have had to address the scourge of gun violence that is now so prevalent in this country. In the United States, the deaths that have resulted from access to automatic weapons have now transcended former boundaries.  Those impacted by guns and gun violence now include elementary, high school and college age students, church goers, theater attendees, and now nightclub patrons.

To me, there are many complicated factors that intertwine to create what feels like a problem that is exclusive to the United States; factors which include the availability of far too many automatic weapons, the factors of drugs & alcohol abuse, the factor of widespread poverty, the factor of racism, the factor of mental illness, and the most recently the factors of hate and intolerance.

While we may feel overwhelmed at the magnitude of this national epidemic, as Christians, we are called to break the bonds of hate and intolerance by practicing repeated acts of selflessness and love. As followers of Jesus, we are called to practice forgiveness, selflessness, and to create opportunities for reconciliation wherever possible.  Personally, this means that we must take a hard look at ourselves and see where our own biases and prejudices cloud our ability to love our neighbors as ourselves.  And as Christians, I believe that we are called to stand up and demand that our legislators finally take action to limit and reduce access to automatic weapons that all too frequently get into the hands of those who should never have them.

At Christ Church, we are part of the community of greater Montpelier and we are fortunate to live in a part of this nation where diversity is celebrated as opposed to shunned.  While many of us enjoy the diversity that makes Vermont an incredibly special place to call home, we cannot lose sight of the fact that no community is exempt from the threat of violence, hatred, and intolerance.  During this time of mourning of yet another national tragedy, our communities must unite in both prayers for peace, but more importantly, to engage in actions that will stop the constant barrage of gun violence and death.  I urge you to think about how you can take actionable steps that will put our Christian faith to work.  Whether you contact your local legislator to urge actionable gun control or whether you engage in a community conversation, please do something.  To be sure, God does have the power to make the seemingly impossible become reality, but God needs more than our prayers to make that happen.  God needs our cooperation and our partnership in this world to make healing and reconciliation become a reality.  And we all have to take part in that healing process.

In peace to you all,

Paul

Rev. Paul Habersang
Author: Rev. Paul Habersang

Priest in Partnership at Christ Church.

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