“The hands, that help, are holier than the lips that pray.” Robert Ingersoll
“You’re in my thoughts and prayers.”
These words are frequently my go to in a variety of settings: End of a hospital visit, “Thoughts and prayers;” As I say goodbye to someone I’ve visited with, “Thoughts and prayers;” After hearing of a recent tragedy, “Thoughts and prayers.” These words express my care and concern for the individual and their situation. I admit, they are not always descriptive of my future behavior. I, like you, forget.
The shooting in Parkland, Florida, like similar moments the past three months, brought these words to the lips of politicians, churches, and individuals. From the lips of others, came the words, “Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. They never have been.”
Emily Reid, has read the headline, “Among the deadliest shootings in history ...” thirteen times already in her twenty years of life. She is not optimistic this will be the last time. Unless? Unless we do something. Unless we act. Otherwise, thoughts and prayers will never be enough.
This reality is expressed in the holiest of Jewish days, Yom Kippur. On the Day of Atonement, the sins which Israel committed before or against God were cleansed. The people stood before God clean. There was one exception. A wrong against a fellow human being remained if you had not sought out their forgiveness. That one would not be cleansed.
Neil Urwitz states, “At least in the Jewish Tradition, if you have not made things right with your fellow man, G-d will not answer your prayers. And if you have made the same prayers over and over and over again, and the same horrors keep happening, that’s not on G-d. That’s on you.”
Mass shootings are on us despite our prayers if we have not acted to make things right with past and future victims. We make things right by confessing our wrong of idleness and start to act in ways that will change our relationship to guns. Prayer can no longer be our pacifier.
What can we do? Below are some steps we can take now.
Reconsider our stance on guns by becoming aware of the various opinions surrounding this subject. What solutions are being proposed? Are they taking it to far or not far enough? Listen and read widely.
Host a small group of friends and family to look at gun control from a religious and spiritual perspective. A great resource is “Faith vs. Fear.” http://www.uccfiles.com/pdf/faith-vs-fear-bible-study.pdf
Participate in a March for Our Lives this March 24.
Contact your senators and express your view on guns and ask them to find a solution that makes a real difference.
Let us offer only thoughts and prayers if we are willing to act.
Rev. Tony Minear, PhD. is the Lead Pastor at Church of the Beatitudes a Progressive Christian Church based in Phoenix AZ.
To reach Pastor Tony