Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
I call us together in the name and spirit of the love of Jesus Christ.
The sting of violent death and injury have touched our Conference directly. Once again, I ask you to join me in prayer and action. The shooting in Las Vegas has claimed lives and hundreds of innocent persons have suffered injury. In addition, evil violence such as this shatters the lives of family and friends and the whole community and calls us to courageous action and advocacy for justice and mercy.
Let us join in prayer in the name of our compassionate God, asking for comfort for all who mourn. Prayers for those who were killed and their families and loved ones. Prayers for the injured and for the good Samaritans and first responders who cared for them. Prayers for medical personnel who continue to care for the wounded. Prayers for the shooter and his family. Prayers for law enforcement as they continue their investigation. Prayers for all those who are affected by gun violence here and around the world. Prayers for our lawmakers as we search for ways to reduce/eliminate gun violence.
Respond with action. Prayer is powerful but if you want to do more, here are some concrete ways you can add action to prayer.
- Donate blood. Publicize the need for blood donations and if possible, arrange for a blood drive at your church for the community.
- Hold a prayer vigil with other faith groups. Invite your community. Reach out across faith lines. Keep your doors open for people who want to drop in for prayer. Preach and teach nonviolence.
- Commit yourself to advocating for an end to senseless violence by speaking up for restrictions on gun ownership that allow individuals to own weapons used in mass shootings such as this.
Resources for such a time as this may be found at:
- Gun Violence Prevention: https://www.umcjustice.org/what-we-care-about/peace-with-justice/gun-violence-prevention
- What we believe: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/ways-united-methodists-can-take-a-stand-against-gun-violence
- Trauma and families: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/after-traumatic-events-listen
As Christ followers who are called to love all persons, we recoil at these violent and senseless killings. To help us through a time of heavy heart such as this, when our spirits sink with hopeless despair and anger, we turn to God’s Word and we lift our prayers to God for hope and healing. We are buoyed by the words of the Scriptures that tell of God’s deep compassion and love.
“Out of the depth I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!… I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” (Psalm 130: 1-2, 3-6)
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
May we find comfort that God gives us the victory over death in the name of Jesus Christ, our strength, and our salvation. But may the peace of Christ embolden us to love more like Jesus and act with courage for justice.