A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more (Matthew 2:18).

As we live into these first days and weeks of Lent, we do so riveted by the news of another tragic mass shooting, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Ash Wednesday. My heart, like yours, is filled with anguish; my spirit, like yours, laments. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be consoled because they are no more, and so do we.

We pray for the inconsolable loved ones and for the shooter and his family, for those terrorized by what took place and those who are unmoved. We acknowledge our own failings and ask God to guide us in finding new ways to turn the tide together on both the availability of assault weapons and the lack of mental health care.

But we know that those things alone won’t solve this epidemic. All of us, including the church, must take a close look at ourselves. How are we cultivating a culture of violence, hatred, anger and fear, and how can we participate in building a counter-culture where people can experience God’s intended peace and life abundant for all?

Lent is a time for lamentation, dwelling with our sorrow, and facing the painful reality of death. We take each step certain that God weeps with us, walks with us in our deepest sufferings, and in the end makes the ultimate sacrifice for us – through death on a cross. This is our strength for the journey.

A prayer offered by Bishop Pedro Suárez, Florida-Bahamas Synod:

Dear loving God,

There are so many things we don’t understand about our world. We might not know how the families and friends of the victims of today’s shooting are feeling. But we do care. May they feel your presence in spirit through those that are accompanying them right now.

Help us to be mindful of the pain around us and to do something about it. We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

God’s peace,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


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