Unburdened: A prayer following the shooting at Umpqua Community College

Unburdened: A prayer following the shooting at Umpqua Community College

We gather so often in this hour feeling empty and asking you to fill us. We want to leave here with more. More love. More hope. More strength. More wisdom.

Today though, God, we come not empty, but overburdened. We need to leave something behind.

We’re carrying another word. We’re carrying 9 more names.

We add “Umpqua” to “Littleton”, “Newtown”, “Virginia Tech”, “Aurora”, “Kileen”, “Charleston”, “Ft. Hood”, and so many more.

We add the names Lucero Alcaraz, Treven Taylor, Rebeckah Ann Carnes, Quinn Glenn Cooper, Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, Lucas Eibel, Jason Dale Johnson, Lawrence Levine, Serena Dawn Moore to so many more before them.

As our lists grow longer, our grief grows deeper. It’s too much to carry. We wish to leave it behind. But with it we must leave more.

 

We must leave our vengeance.

We must leave our thirst for power.

We must leave our hunger for violence.

We must leave the deception that violence breeds anything more than violence.

We must leave our fear.

We must leave our insistence that individual property rights stand higher than the cause of peace.

 

We’ve come in carrying so much. Take it all from us, let us leave today feeling not full, but unburdened.

 

Still there is one thing remaining we must leave behind. It will seem strange here on this table where the world has come together on World Communion Sunday, among these emblems of a love which gave itself over to violence.

It will seem out of place, but this is the place where swords are beat into plowshares is it not?

This is the place where a cross of crucifixion becomes a symbol of life is it not?

 

So perhaps it will not seem so odd at all when we lay down our guns and walk away unburdened.

Amen.

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