Last night an Alabama man opened fire in a Lafayette movie theater. He killed two young women and wounded nine other people before turning his gun on himself.
Among the wounded are two members of one of our local Episcopal parishes and the mother of a student attending a local Episcopal school. There seems to be no personal connection between the shooter and any of his victims. He was attending a comedy.
Words fail to express the shock and sorrow so many of us feel in response to yet another act of senseless, irrational violence. Our hearts go out to the victims, to their families, and to the entire community of Lafayette.
Join me in praying for those who died. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. May the merciful God comfort and console their grieving families and friends.
Join me in prayer for those who were wounded. May their recovery be swift and complete, and may God’s healing touch guide the medical personnel caring for them.
Finally, pray for the deceased shooter. Nothing excuses his disregard for the infinite value of human life and his destructive violence. And yet our Lord teaches us to pray even for those who would do us harm and who would reject our prayers. May the infinitely loving God have mercy on his tormented soul.
My heart and mind—probably much like your own—are reeling with the specific horror and agony of the Lafayette shootings. Nevertheless, I am also mindful that these shootings join what seems like an endless stream of senseless violence across our country.
This is not the time to outline a detailed Christian response to our epidemic of violence. But there is space to name it for what it is: an epidemic. The medicine for this epidemic is the Gospel. And that Gospel teaches us to be peacemakers.
We followers of Jesus are not helpless in the face of violence. But we must take the risk to ask how we contribute—in many cases unconsciously and unintentionally—to a cultural addiction to violence. And we must have the courage to take the risky steps and to make the difficult changes to overcome violence with the peace that passes all understanding.