A Little Church Responds to Deadly Gun Violence
On Transfiguration Sunday, Bishop Bonnie A. Perry, Diocese of Michigan, began her sermon with these words: “There are text led sermons and there are life led sermons. This is the latter.” She was addressing recent gun deaths in her jurisdiction, including the mass shooting at Michigan State University. (see link below to her sermon video)
Our little church has also heard a call from the Holy Spirit to dedicate this Lenten season to an intentional awareness and response to our culture of violence, including gun violence. Our Lenten journey, “Through the Valley with The Prince of Peace” is a spontaneous, intentionally Christian non-violence response to our national culture of violence. Each Sunday’s worship service will lift up an element of deadly violence with a response from our spiritual and ethical traditions. We are hopeful the Holy Spirit will guide us in awakening and responding. And, we would like to invite all of our UCC siblings to join us in these three actions during Lent through Good Friday, April 4/7:
1) (Daily) Refrain from Violence/Death-Centered Entertainment Do you read murder mysteries, or watch crime shows, or study warfare, or play video games where opponents are killed? Please join us in giving up any entertainment centered on violent deaths during Lent.
2) (Weekly) Acknowledge All U.S. Gun Violence Deaths Occurring During Lent The U.S. has, by far, the largest death rate by gunfire of any high-income country. 120 Americans, average, are killed every day. Such saturation of gun violence numbs our senses and our souls. This Lent we are going to pay attention to these deaths AND offer spiritual care communally through a Prayer Fence. We are asking folks to write the names of victims of gun violence on ribbons and tie them to our church fence – you may wish to do the same or come visit us at 2117 Acton Street in Berkeley just south of University Avenue. In addition to naming the deaths of these beloved ones, we will also offer prayers of love, healing, and comfort.
• Daily U.S. gun violence log: https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/
• National gun violence statistics: https://everytownresearch.org/report/gunviolence-in-america/
• “It’s been a Long, Hard, Sad Week” Sermon by Bishop Bonnie A. Perry — a Lenten response to recent gun deaths in Michigan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkNpgAZ1vw8
3) (Monthly) Support Organizations That Prevent or Treat Victims of Any Type of Violence. Two Recommendations from our Chinese-American congregation:
• Half Moon Bay Victims Fund, which will provide safe housing, trauma care, and other direct relief to victims, survivors, and other impacted individuals in Half Moon Bay: https://www.gofundme.com/f/half-moon-bay-victims-fund
• Response to AAPI hate crimes – Resources, education, activism: https://stopaapihate.org/
(Note: Earlier this year we wrote a gun-safety statement endorsing changes to gun laws in California, which, surprisingly, as the most restrictive nationally. Clearly, we need to do more.)
Here is the conclusion to our Transfiguration Sunday sermon:
“One of my favorite ‘church’ quotes, is from anthropologist Margaret Mead. You may recognize it, she wrote: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’
“A long time ago three disciples saw and heard first-hand that Jesus Christ was God’s Beloved Son. And God spoken to them saying, ‘Listen to Him.’
“And it just might be that if our little church, ‘Listens to Him’ we will hear Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, speaking to us, guiding us through our National Valley of Death right now, right here in Berkeley, for the well-being of all souls. Dear Ones, may we ‘Listen to Him.’”
I hope you’ll share how the Holy Spirit is leading your church this Lent. Blessings upon you dear UCC siblings!
In the Big Love,
Rev. Kathryn Schreiber, Berkeley Chinese COMMUNITY Church