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Our Moral Imperative to End Gun Violence

The Reverend Dana Corsello and St. Luke's Church hosted the 2016 National Vigil to #EndGunViolence on Saturday, December 10th. We were most honored and pleased to feature Speaker Nancy Pelosi as our most distinguished guest speaker at this event.

In addition, young Elizabeth and the congregation delivered a heartfelt rendition of Amazing Grace during the Vigil. Click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGhiUYaoJZg

to view and enjoy the performance.

We had a strong turnout and thank those who attended to come together to remember the more than 120,000 Americans killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook school massacre. Your interest helped us shine a light on this tragic toll.

On December 10th at hundreds of locations nationwide voice was given to all victims and survivors of gun violence. Together we can help #EndGunViolence in America.

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St. Luke's has speaking out against Gun Violence for sometime now. The messaging below helps further express our position and history:

Our thanks to all who attended the Golden Bridge Walk on June 2, 2016, which was "National Gun Violence Awareness Day", and St. Luke's public forum event entitled “The Moral Imperative of Gun Violence Prevention” on October 20, 2015. Our initiative continues.....

My Dear Sisters and Brothers,

One of the more important observations that came from my sabbatical in Spain was that Europe, unlike the United States, has little or no gun violence. Certainly, terrorist attacks happen involving guns, but mass shootings in schools, churches, shopping centers, public squares, etc., are exceptionally rare. When we arrived in Barcelona our realtor warned us that while our wallets might be pick-pocketed, no one would hurt us, as violent crime committed against strangers is almost non-existent. Time and time again, Barcelonans would ask us why Americans feel such a need to possess guns (300 million!) and use them against one another. I was at a loss.

But this much I believe with all my heart and soul: We Christians have a moral imperative to end gun violence. Before you stop reading, please know that what follows is a Faith Argument, not a Freedom Argument. For us, the Bible is the source of our teaching on moral and ethical issues. What we often forget is that the Good Book is overwhelmingly concerned with public, not private morality. The big problems for the prophets and Jesus involve social issues such as economic justice, relief for widows, orphans and refugees, and fair treatment of those who live on the margins—in short, alleviating the suffering of the innocent. The problem of innocent human suffering is a core religious issue, and acting politically to alleviate it is, at root, a profoundly spiritual endeavor.

We cannot prevent natural disasters like earthquakes and wildfires; we can only respond after the fact with aid and prayers. But when a preventable malevolence leads—predictably, regularly, sickeningly—to the death of children in our classrooms and on our streets, Love of Neighbor compels us to act. A church that does nothing in the face of innocent suffering is not worthy of the name.

Every great religious tradition emphasizes the sanctity of human life. Ours tells us we shall not murder; to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks; to turn the other cheek, love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We Christians must put on the armor of God and work to end gun violence—and we must do so in the name of God. How we proceed—advocacy and legislation, mental health care reform, a critical understanding of the culture of violence—is open to conversation.

To this end, St. Luke’s took a bold step by hosting a public forum entitled, “The Moral Imperative of Gun Violence Prevention” on October 20, 2016 - with a reception that followed. Distinguished panelists included: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Police Chief Greg Suhr, District Attorney George Gascon, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Mark Farrell.

My thanks to all who join me in our ongoing crusade to end gun violence through prayer, conversation and advocacy.

Blessings,

The Reverend Dana Corsello, Rector

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The following is Rev. Dana's 2015 Advent message and prayer for an end to gun violence:

“By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim…we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Like every Advent, we prepare ourselves to observe the nativity of something deemed to be holy and salvific. We recall ancient prophecies that foretell a “prince of peace, and wonderful counselor” who comes around each year with a message to save us from ourselves (Isaiah 9:6). Once born into a world of violence and terror not unlike our own, the message remains unchanged. Regrettably, so too has been the obstinate ways in which we have collectively refused to live with one another in peace, mercy and love. The darkness of Advent encases our souls.

What seemed so incomprehensible at that time, is an insane but normal occurrence now. The carnage in San Bernardino has cast a pall on our nation, our consciousness and on our Advent. While our prayers may seem futile we must not cease—those broken people need to know we hurt with them.

I have to ask, do we live under a fundamental fallacy that gun-violence is an acceptable response for the right to bear arms? What about our right to live without the fear of gun violence perpetuated on our families? The Christian theologian and commentator, John Bennison wrote, “With every perpetrator, there is one common denominator. We usually don’t know why they did it, at least initially. But we always do know how they did it. And we can say that for whatever reason they did what they did, it was an act intended to express something. And, in this case, the means used to express that something in such a lethal way was with legally acquired weapons that provided the means to commit those violent acts. Whether or not this scenario fits our predisposed opinions, those are simple, plain and undeniable facts.”

Yet the totally impractical, unrealistic and prophetic message of Advent remains undeterred; with a nagging question that comes around every year, as we prepare for Christ’s birth in the midst of carnage and chaos. We have erred so long on the side of doing nothing, might it not be time to err instead on the side of doing something, regardless of its possible ineffectiveness? What choice do we have?

Let us pray: God of life, every act of violence in our world, in our communities, between myself and others, destroys a part of your creation. Stir in our hearts a renewed sense of reverence for all life. Give us the vision to recognize your spirit in every human being, however they behave towards us. Make possible the impossible by cultivating in us the fertile seed of healing love. May we play our part in breaking the cycle of violence by realizing that peace begins with us. In the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who is our peace and who will come again, Amen.

Mercies,

The Reverend Dana Corsello

Rector

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