In the Wake of the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas
To the beloved community of God’s People at Echo Park UMC:
Grace and peace in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ:
Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:7-8 (CEB)
We awoke on Monday morning to news of one more mass shooting in the United States… this time in Las Vegas, Nevada. We don’t know much about the shooter or why he did what we did. All that we know for sure was that he killed 59 people, and wounded 528 others, some of them very seriously.
Our hearts are broken! How could it be otherwise? As followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we know that this act of violence stands in stark contrast to God’s good and loving will for humanity. God has called us to build communities where all can dwell together in compassion, abundance, and security. But, we have instead created a world that is dominated by suspicion, scarcity, and fear. Mass murders like those that have recently taken place in Las Vegas, Orlando, Charlotte, and Sandy Hook point to the brokenness of our society and underscore our need for real healing and transformation.
Of course, major mass shootings with high casualty counts are just the tip of our gun-violence iceberg in the United States. A mass shooting (defined as an event in which more than four people are shot) happens every day. Hundreds die each year in these mass-shooting episodes and thousands more are left with debilitating injuries. At the same time, tens of thousands more die or are wounded by guns each year through suicides, homicides and accidents.
The time has come to realize that more is needed than just anguished prayers. As Jesus’ followers, we need become actively involved in working to end the epidemic of gun violence that is eating away at our nation’s soul. This may compel some to engage in political advocacy for common-sense gun control. It may call others to do intensive work to mend the fabric of our fractured communities through efforts at re-building neighborliness and re-establishing trust. It may push others to address the root causes of our national addiction to violence. It will include all of us in a vast and powerful movement to build a world where authentic justice is done, where prosperity is shared, where fear is swallowed up in love, and where peace becomes a reality.
In his pastoral letter to the Desert Southwest Annual Conference, United Methodist Bishop Robert Hoshibata has offered several resources that we can use as we seek to respond to the violence in Las Vegas and to address issues of gun violence more broadly. I invite you to read Bishop Hoshibata’s letter and to make use of the resources he recommends:
Bishop Hoshibata’s Pastoral Letter:
United Methodist Resources on Gun Violence Prevention:
What United Methodists Believe about Gun Violence:
United Methodist Resources on Caring for People after Traumatic Events:
I also commend to you, our own Bishop Grant Hagiya’s Call to Prayer, which has already been posted on our Echo Park UMC website and Facebook page.
Finally, I invite all of us to be in prayer for Caroline Luat-Young’s friend, Cathy G., who was present at the concert in Las Vegas and was among the wounded. She is currently in ICU with a bullet lodged in her arm.
May God bless you now and always,