The First Parish Blog

Pastoral Message about the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas

By , Published on October 2, 2017

I am devastated to write to you, yet again, in the wake of a major national tragedy: the mass shooting at a Las Vegas outdoor concert that has already claimed nearly sixty lives, with five hundred more people injured. Though we will not forget the lives at risk from ongoing flooding, infrastructure damage, and insufficient government assistance across the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas, our hearts are always torn apart whenever any individual unleashes such terrible violence. And, “whenever” is far too frequent in our country. Painful as it is, we keep all the victims of this violence in our hearts and pray for solace for the Las Vegas community.

Please know that the Pastoral Care team and I are available for spiritual support during this difficult time; please feel free to reach out to us by email or phone. Also, the Congregational Church will host an interfaith vigil in remembrance of all those killed and injured in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 7pm.

I know one of our most difficult tasks after a tragedy is to respond to questions from the children of our congregation. If you are struggling to explain what has happened to your children and to comfort them, please know that Mark LaPointe and I are available by email and phone to support you and that our denomination has a website full of resources for parents during these tragic and all-too-common times. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times about Charlottesville includes a list of advice for parents for talking to both younger kids and teens.

We must take care of our emotional and spiritual health after a tragedy like this, but we cannot be complacent and believe we are powerless to end gun violence. My friend and United Church of Christ Andover-Newton graduate, Casey Guet, wrote this in righteous anger about our national ambivalence toward gun violence:

Why do guns grow from the ground, oh Lord?
Why did you make something, which kills so quickly?

Why do you allow these killing machines to be plucked
From our gardens?
And sold in our gun markets?

We will not take any responsibility.
We never do.
In the beginning, God created the gun and the bullet.

There is nothing we can do, nothing to stop these tragedies.
Perhaps, if we created guns with our own hands,
Perhaps, if we could use our system of laws,

But there is nothing we can do.
The guns will keep cropping up.
The guns will keep growing.

I wonder, is there a way to destroy these flowers of death?
But cash crops are so hard to burn.

Indeed, “cash crops” like the gun industry are hard to burn — yet, we must not succumb to despair, we must keep trying. People’s lives depend on our efforts! The Unitarian Universalist Association is committed to proactively respond to the epidemic of gun violence in our country. Our congregation actively supports the local anti-homicide, pro-peace Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, and I encourage each of you to learn more about organizations like Stop Handgun Violence, the Brady Campaign, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Our beloved member of blessed memory, Ed Lane, gave a Lyceum in January about gun violence, adding a supplemental blog article to emphasize that strong gun control laws (like those we have in Massachusetts) significantly reduce gun violence. If you feel passionate about reducing gun violence and mass shootings in Massachusetts and across our nation, I encourage you to call to your state and federal elected officials and tell them how you feel!

As Unitarian Universalists, we are committed to the ethical principles affirming that every person has inherent worth and dignity and that we must work together for a world community of peace, liberty, and justice for all. We will pray for all those impacted by gun violence, and we will work to be peacemakers locally and nationally.

 

One response to “Pastoral Message about the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas”

  1. Jeanne Gerber says:

    Catie,

    We are on a trip out west and left Las Vegas Sunday morning!!! We happened to pass through the town of Mesquite, Nevada where the killer was from on our way to Zion National Park.

    This is such insanity. Maybe we need to take to the streets to get gun laws changed. Congress has been impotent too often.