A Litany For Gun Violence

(This litany was written for Gun Violence Sabbath – December 13, 2015. It is appropriate any day, and any place where we are confronted by the senseless evil of murder by guns. This Litany was composed by Rt. Rev. Steven T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Vermont.)


Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in harmony and peace. Surround us with your love as we face the challenges and tragedies of gun violence.

For our dear ones, for our neighbors, for strangers and aliens, and those known to you alone,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Righteousness, you have given our leaders, especially Barack, our President, and [n.], our Governor, the members of Congress, the judges of our courts and members of our legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders, for police officers, firefighters and EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the lobbies, the malls and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place day after day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims.

For our brothers and sisters who risk their lives and their serenity as they rush to our aid,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope.

For all whose lives are forever marked by the scourge of gun violence,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died, (more than 30,000 this year,) in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care.

For all who have died, those who die today, and those who will die tomorrow,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Empower us to change this broken world and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Give us power to rise above our fear that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change.

For your dream of love and harmony,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

All this we pray in the name of the One who offered his life so that we might live, Jesus the Christ.

Amen.


The intercessor / reader / leader reads the text in plain text, and the group / congregation joins in reading the bold type. The italicized type is optional, or the numbers can be adjusted by year – the 30,000 shown is for 2015.)


A suitable hymn:

Abide With Me
hymn tune: EVENTIDE

 

 

Abide With Me
lyrics by Henry F. Lyte, 1847

based on Luke 24:29

“But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.”

 

  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
  2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see—
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
  3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
  4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
  5. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
    Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

 

 

..

.

 

Memorial Day.

One of the great testaments to anti-war thought in America was expressed in The War Prayer by Mark Twain. In the short story, Twain wrote about  how we must understand exactly what it is we pray for when we pray for war. The horrible, painful, bloody and deadly things we pray for, when we pray for war.

He felt the story so controversial that he would not consent to the publication of the story until after his death.

One of the great novels of the American Civil War is The Red Badge of Courage, and in that book, Stephen Crane speaks of the humanity of war – of how we must look down deeper than the large brigades and the flying flags and the pounding drums driving our forces forward, driving many to their inevitable doom. It’s a book that is both about waiting for death to come on  red-soaked battlefields, and about running away from that useless death, as quickly as a man’s feet can possibly carry him.

Both speak of the bloody uselessness of war, and one is considered a classic of our country’s literature. Neither story came to praise Caesar; they came to bury him.

It is to our great dismay that Caesar – these wars they write of – will never stay buried.

On Memorial Day, when we pause to remember all those who have given that greatest measure of their life in the defense of their country, we dare not say any of those lives were wasted by death. They were all honored but with an honor that is so painful for us all that to bestow it, we must each realize what we have as a country done. And we must live in prayer and meditation that no more such terrible honors must be given in our lifetime.

The Red Badge of Courage opens with one of the greatest scenes in literature, of the great army about to begin its march. Crane shows us the vastness of the horrors about to happen:

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors. It cast its eyes upon the roads, which were growing from long troughs of liquid mud to proper thoroughfares. A river, amber-tinted in the shadow of its banks, purled at the army’s feet; and at night, when the stream had become of a sorrowful blackness, one could see across it the red, eyelike gleam of hostile camp-fires set in the low brows of distant hills.

The setting is chilling in its largeness and in the anticipation of the terrible things to come, coming in the name of flag and freedom. The scene has been repeated many times and on many soils, against many different enemy camps. In snow and in sand. Mountains and islands. Bombed-out cities and incinerated lands. In New York City where thousands choke in a blinding dust. Later when they can breathe and speak they say, “Not here. This was not supposed to happen to us here.”

All scenes of our citizen soldiers. All paying that highest price for which we can only give honor with tears and with memories, with good stories and familiar songs. Warm hugs when needed, and always that vacant chair at the holiday feast.

Crane’s great winding army rose to its feet and marched onward toward the enemy camps. They will again tomorrow. They will next year. And again, we will do our best to remember and to honor their actions. We will cry our best tears and remember that no life – no matter how short – is wasted. No death – no matter what the reason – is to pass by without our remembering how it was that heroes came to be so prevalent in our lives.  You see: we are Americans. We honor our dead, and we praise all our living.

Keep the faith!

 – Amen

 

 

 

A Prayer at the Loss of A Pet

For the never-ending and always forgiving love
which knows no depth nor height nor width,

the perfect example of the love from God
the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,
we will be forever grateful.

Slip away from us now, dear friend
and run forever in the fields of blessing.

And may we, at the end, be together once more.

– Amen