[Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania] “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
As a community we are sickened and horrified. There are times in life when you just cannot find the words. As we confront yet another wave of death and violence I simply cannot believe the pain. Collectively we are all asking ourselves “Why?” Why such rage? Why are so many dead? Why is our nation once again left in mourning?
We offer our prayers for the more than 50 killed, more than 400 wounded and all those affected by this horror. As we celebrate the Eucharist and Daily Office in our parishes we collectively offer our prayers and plead for God’s wisdom and guidance. We believe in the knowledge that God was with them as they left this earthly journey in pain, yet, this scourge of violence cannot, cannot, continue. When will we look at one another through the eyes of Jesus Christ so that we may truly become instruments of God’s peace?
As a people of God, we will offer our hourly prayers. But we must do more.
We must resist the urge to polarize the issue along lines of race, religion and politics and instead come together as a single church and a single nation. I am asking the people of this diocese to place aside our political divisions and find a way to come together as a community and live out the message of Jesus Christ to the world. As it is written in Ephesians 4:2-3 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.“
As a people of God, we will offer our daily prayers. But we must be prophets of peace.
So long as people look to solve their disagreements with violence this needs to be our single greatest priority. The violence that rained down upon the crowd in Las Vegas reflects the worst of the sin and brokenness of our human condition. I am asking that we devote a portion of our Diocesan Convention to re-commit ourselves to the work of diffusing violence in our hearts, in our community, our nation and indeed throughout our world, including the role that guns play in this problem. Only then can we truly live into our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.
I ask that we become voices of reconciliation in a hurting world. We seek to be the face of Christ to the world. For the next 30 days may we pray the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis. In addition to prayer, may we become prophets of peace. We need to pray we have the courage to confront evil in this world. I ask that the Diocese of Pennsylvania now become a place that engages the world in peace and encourages respect for the sanctity of human life. We will find a way to shine a light in the darkness in the name of Christ. We have no other choice.
Bishop Dan Edwards is having all the church bells toll in Las Vegas, and throughout the Diocese of Nevada, Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. (Noon our time). We ask that our parishes in the Diocese of Pennsylvania do the same. Please toll the bells once for each fatality as the death count is reported at that time; at present it stands at 58.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania