Advent: Working together for peace in our community

A call to the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath on Sunday, December 13

A Litany to be used for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath

A statement by the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane

The recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs is frightening reminder of the unprecedented level of gun violence now assaulting our country. Each year more than 30,000 of us are victims of gun violence, often at the hands of a friend or family member, or at our own hands. In Maine, there were 158 firearm deaths in 2013, the last year for which there are published statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. That’s nearly double the number in 2003 (82). The conversation about gun violence has been lost in the debate over technicalities concerning gun control. What we seem to have forgotten is that we – all of us – have a right to live safely in our own homes; to go about our business, to go shopping or have a meal out without being shot. As a nation, and a people, we are failing to keep ourselves safe.

Christians in many traditions have now begun what we call the season of Advent, a season devoted to waiting for the coming of Jesus. In this season we reflect on the darkness of the world around us and our need for God. And we wait for the coming of the light – Jesus. For many people, the constant news about gun violence emphasizes our need for relief, to be able to feel safe and to trust the people around us.

As a Bishop in The Episcopal Church, I want to call on all of us to observe a Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath on Sunday, December 13, 2015.  It is a day for prayer and reflection. It is a day to remember and pray for all those who have died and for their families. And it is a day to seek the will to make our land a safer place, to refrain from resolving disputes or complaints with a gun. As a member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, I invite you to learn more about gun violence and common sense proposals to make our lives safer at  www.bishopsagainstgunviolence.org.

The baby in the manger, the infant Jesus, shows all of us, no matter what our faith tradition, that God dreams of a different sort of world, where the innocence of children reminds us of the love of God which binds us all together. Human beings are made for love. Collaboration and trust are our natural inclinations. Jesus came to help us claim those gifts and to share them with our neighbors. In this season may we all claim the dream of God and work with one another for peace in our world, our neighborhoods, our homes and our hearts.

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Resources:
Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath:  www.decembersabbath.org
Bishops United Against Gun Violence: www.bishopsagainstgunviolence.org

Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath events in Maine
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, Maine Moms Demand Action, and the Maine Council of Churches will hold three vigils this month to honor victims and raise awareness to prevent gun violence. All are welcome.

Portland  – Prayer Vigil at St. Luke’s Cathedral
143 State Street
Wednesday, December 9 at 7 p.m.
This vigil will honor victims, survivors and family members of those lost to gun violence, on the same day that the National Vigil is held in Washington, DC.

Brunswick – Light Into Darkness-Finding Hope
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick
15 Pleasant Street
Saturday, December 12, at 2 p.m., ending with a candlelight vigil
This remembrance day will draw attention to effects of gun violence on families and communities. Speakers include Judi and Wayne Richardson, parents of Darien, lost to gun violence, and Matthew Perry of Family Crisis Services of Cumberland County. Women in Harmony will also provide music at the service.

Cumberland (just north of the Falmouth town line)
Friends School of Portland
11 U.S. Route 1
Monday, December 14, at 6:30 p.m. (the third anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.)
A remembrance and call to action.

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