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by Susan Russell

I did not give up Facebook for Lent. Instead I decided to use it as a way to frame my prayers for the day by raising up into my consciousness those — as one of the Prayers of the People names it — “lives who are closely linked with ours.” Prayers of thanks for birthdays and babies; engagements and graduations; of healing for loss and illness; anxiety and annoyance — and for the challenges that plague our nation and our world … too many to even to begin to mention here.

This morning, as I scanned my FB feed over my morning coffee I stopped at the headline my friend Katie shared: ‘We can tell his heart is broken’: 6-year-old picks up dad’s gun and accidentally kills him. And — for at least a few minutes — I didn’t even have any prayers. Just anger that we have become a country where such a headline is not just possible but is part of the warp and weave of our national narrative.

The death of this daddy — sitting at his computer and shot by his six year old son by an unlocked handgun in the house — was “at least the 18th accidental shooting by an American child under age 10 this year, according to a Washington Post survey of news reports. Six of those incidents were fatal, and in every other one, the victim was also a child. In three cases, the person killed was the child who accidentally pulled the trigger.”

The eighteenth. This year. It’s only February.

We are launched on a forty day journey into the wilderness we call Lent. One of the prayers we offering on that journey is this one:

God of new life,
we thank you for the redemptive,
liberating power of Jesus.
When your Spirit led him into the wilderness
to be tested for his ministry,
he wrestled to understand his calling.

Now, as we make our way through our own wilderness,
we ask for the strength and the courage
to become the people you are calling us to be.

My prayer today — the one I couldn’t muster this morning — is that we be given the grace to become people who can turn our anger into action. And my hope is that — in spite of the seemingly intractable odds — we might find a way through the wilderness of gun violence to a place of safety for our children.  All our children.

During the Forty Days of Lent, we will offer daily meditations from All Saints Church. Today’s is by Senior Associate for Communication Susan Russell.