Heeding God’s Call Memorial to Those Lost to Gun Violence

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Last year, 155 people in our metropolitan area died of gun violence: There were two children who were three years old, a 73-year old man whose life was irrevocably altered many years ago when he was shot, dozens of teens and young adults, and many in the prime years of their lives. Some died by their own hands, some at the hands of others.

We at University Park Church of the Brethren and at Hyattsville Mennonite Church stand with the faith-based efforts of “Heeding God’s Call” –lamenting this loss of life, grieving with those left behind, and calling for change to prevent such tragedies in the future.

We acknowledge that none of us is immune to fierce impulses within or beyond us.

But behind the trigger stand arrayed forces of cultural violence. Recognizing that economic interests, fear, militarism, poverty, and racism are at play, we want not only to mourn the tragedy of gun violence, but to transform it.

The One who calls us to seek the welfare of the city in which we live is here among us. In this place and beyond, many are working to address causes of the crisis.

They tend to the vulnerable.

They advocate for just regulation and accountability.

They invite us to join in stepping forward to act.

Today, we light the peace lamp as a sign of our commitment to be a part of this diverse community of concern and deeds. Let its flame burn steadily.

IMG_5370A Prayer

God of love,

Light a flame of love in our hearts to you,

A flame of love in our families and friends,

A flame of love for our neighbors,

A flame of love for our enemies.

As we gather in your Spirit,

Light a flame of love in our hearts for all,

From the lowliest thing that lives,

To the Name that is highest of all.

Amen.

 

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A Confession

One: God of life,

Our anxieties are too much and our trust is too little.

Falling captive to fear, we build defenses.

Through your grace

All: Turn us and transform us.

One: Removed from violent death, we are often oblivious.

Privileged enough to turn away, we close our eyes.

Through your grace,

All: Turn us and transform us.

One: Busy with our lives, we are distracted.

Ill at ease with confrontation, we remain silent.

Through your grace,

All: Turn us and transform us.

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Behind each of these shirts is not only the person it represents, but the parents, siblings, extended family, friends and neighbors who know the grief of loss.

And behind each is a hand that pulled a trigger for reasons that can, we believe, be avoided.

Behind them is a community broken by this violence, longing for healing.

And in the midst and beyond all of these is the God who yearns for the wholeness of our community and every community on earth.

We’ve heard the names. We see these shirts that remind us of their living, breathing presence in the world. And we protest their loss.

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Follow the link to see the 2015 Memorial list of 155 names (1) that each shirt is labeled with. All were a child of God that was killed by gun violence in 2014 in the Metropolitan DC area.

This post includes excerpts from the service around the setting up of the memorial at the University Park Church of the Brethren.

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