I was extremely saddened to hear the news today of the shooting early this morning in Little Rock of what police now say is at least 25 people. We do not yet know the details of why the shooting occurred, but surely our response must go beyond what is too often the only statement after such an event: “Our prayers are with the victims.”
I hope that the church can find a way to respond to such tragedies, because a loving, caring response to a horrific situation can be a more authentic and powerful form of prayer than mere words uttered in haste. The Book of Common Prayer reminds us that prayer is our responding to God, after all.
How do we change the attitudes of people who believe that guns can settle disputes? How do we help people who feel powerless find personal worth so that they do not look with disregard on others? How do we find political leaders who will work toward these same goals?
These are hard questions. Events such as this shooting will require us to dwell on the hard truth that we Episcopalians likely lead lives so different from those of the people we do not see every day at work or in our neighborhoods or, for that matter, in our congregations each Sunday. I suggest that we spend some time in the coming weeks determining what a life-giving response will be. It is an opportunity to reconcile human beings to one another, and when we do that, we are about the true work of the church.