Your Guide to Social Media Safety

This is a composite of articles gleaned from the internet and tech professional about the use of social media and how to keep yourself and your data safe. Hopefully, these will assist you in making decisions about your future use of social media.

Note: the articles in this collection do not necessarily reflect my opinions, but are hopefully presented in an equal manner to all sides.

Several months I published a blog about the use of technology in the church. It contains some warning about security and effective use of various social media tools. It can be read at Technology – A Blessing or a Curse?

Each article will be noted by its link so it can be read entirely independent of the others.
 

 
 
The Rev deniray mueller, Legislative Liaison, Diocese of Southern Ohio, 1 April 2018

In Three Days

Mark 15:48

Today is Easter Sunday – the Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus which brought salvation to the world, and all of us. This is the day that God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

This past Thursday, called Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus was arrested by the high priests of the Jewish temples because they were jealous of the powerful following he was developing. They also feared the message he preached – one that said everyone was important to God. He was then questioned by Pilate, the Roman ruler, who wanted to release Jesus because he could find no fault with him. Throughout the questioning, Jesus remained silent until the end. Then he said one of the most significant statements that foretold his future:

‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ (Mark 15:48)

As I am talking about Easter and Jesus’ resurrection, Saint John’s people will be passing out little Easter nests with three jelly beans. The nest represents the coming of Spring, the renewal of the earth and birth of new creatures. And the three jelly beans remind us of Jesus’ promise that the physical structure of the temple may disappear, the power structures of all men, but a new temple will arise. That temple is the resurrected Jesus who showed us life everlasting.

The number 3 is used 467 times in the Bible. We know from the Holy Week reading that Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane that God would remove this burden from him; we know that

  • James and John and Peter fell asleep three times while Jesus was praying;
  • that Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed;
  • that there was three hours of darkness from the time that Jesus was nailed to the cross until he died.

And more importantly, Jesus was dead three days before he was resurrected.

So, let these 3 little jelly beans remind you of all that!

Also remember that throughout the Bible we are reminded that each of us are children of God, beloved by him, no matter our shortcomings. And, also, that our bodies represent the temple of God –where we try, to the best of our ability, to live worthy lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus suffered a painful and humiliating death to show us that death is not the end of life, but leads to an eternity of love in paradise.

This is the story of Easter.

Let us pray:

Even before the dawn breaks, you are with us. Even while our spirits are broken, you rebuild us. Though we are too weary to run, you renew us. Though we are too slow to believe but quickly ardent in idolization, you remain our God. When we barely remember our names and all hope seems lost to the grave, you love us forever. Now the eyes of our hearts are opened and the song on our lips is pure joy. Beloved Resurrection!

Amen.
 
 
Delivered at In The Garden Ecclesia Ministry, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 1 April 2018

Remeber Those Last Words

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Lord, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds and in the longing of our hearts, by the words of my mouth and in the thoughts we form. Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. Amen.

This week that the Christian world calls ‘Holy Week’ commemorates the last – and most important week of Jesus’ life – for in this week, he moved intentionally from glory and praise to a painful death and martyrdom; from celebrations and acclamations of his divinity; from betrayal, abandonment, torture, mockery, humiliation and death. And then finally the resurrection!

If Jesus had not risen from death to appear to his disciples, we might not remember him at all – and if history did recall him, it would be perhaps as just another interesting, non-conventional Jewish prophet. But we are headed this week to Sunday – and to the resurrection of the Son of Man and the Son of God, and all that means for us. On Sunday we will joyfully celebrate the promise and assurance of eternal life that Jesus of Nazareth revealed to us all.

In this final holy week of Jesus’ life, he spent most of his time teaching his disciples the important lessons for life that he came to show: peace, forgiveness, and the need to love and serve one another to the end.

It was an important time in the Jewish religion – the week of Passover – and Jesus came to Jerusalem with his disciples to observe this high holy day. On this night, Thursday night, he gathered his friends, his disciples for the Passover feast.

Tradition has it that they gathered in the second story room of the house of John Mark’s mother – John Mark being the author of Mark’s Gospel.[1]  During this Passover Seder feast, Jesus demonstrated so many of the things he taught the disciples to do and be.

One thing that he did that has always stood out in my mind, was that he washed the feet of his disciples as they entered the Upper Room. It was the custom that when guests arrived at a home, a servant of the house removed their sandals and washed their feet – feet tired, sore, and dirty from rocky paths and streets. This menial task was beneath the dignity of the master of the house, so a servant did it.

But our Redeemer was a King like no other, and just as he had entered Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey, rather than on a war horse, just as he was greeted by peasants with palm branches rather than legions of soldiers with swords, so Jesus became a servant to his friends, and washed their feet.

After the Passover dinner, he gave his disciples a ritual feast and asked them to remember him always by sharing a meal – the breaking of bread and drinking of wine.

On this Thursday night, Jesus knew full well what lay ahead of him – he knew Judas would betray him, that even Peter would not stand by him, that all his disciples would abandon him, hiding in a locked room, full of fear and cowardice. On this night he prayed for strength, he asked God, his father, to spare him, but knew it could not be.

Jesus knew if his teachings and examples were to go forward, his disciples would have to do it, and ready or not, he kept showing them what to do. He told them:

You can’t say you love me, if you won’t love those I suffered and died for!” (1 John 3:14-18 & 4:7-12.)

Jesus then went willingly to his trial, sentencing, and crucifixion in preparation for his resurrection for all humankind.

For anyone who has traveled the end-of-life journey with someone they care for, they have learned that near the end, the person leaves a message for those who survive. This is something that is extremely important to the dying person – something they want their loved ones to remember them by. It is always important to remember the last words of the person who is about to die; they usually spend their last breath saying things critically important to them. And finally, on this night, Jesus’ last words to them were:

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. You must love each other like I loved you.” (John 13:34)

So tonight we remind ourselves what this world would be without love – we remove the music, the art, the flowers – and finally the light. We leave this place in darkness and silence – for our world and our lives would be dismal and fearful indeed, had Jesus not come to earth and shown that love and service, forgiveness and compassion are

“the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6)

His final words that night were for his disciples – and for us:

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. You must love each other like I loved you.” (John 13:34)

As followers of Jesus – as human beings – we must remember those words, and do our best to live into them every day of our lives.

Let us pray:

God our creator & sustainer, thank you so much for Jesus! Thank you for blessing us with a spiritual meal which reminds us and proclaims again that Jesus died, offering his body and blood as the atonement for our sins. Thank you for giving us the day of his resurrection as the day we can powerfully remember this great sacrifice, and anticipate the great day of reunion that his resurrection has secured for your children. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 
[1]      https://www.quora.com/Who-prepared-the-food-at-Jesuss-last-supper; Cenacle is a room in the David’s Tomb Compound in Jerusalem, traditionally held to be the site of the Last Supper.
 
 

Delivered at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington & Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 29 March 2018

It this ‘MY’ Pew or God’s Pew?

I wish I could say this is a made-up story, but unfortunately it is not.

We recently had a couple visit our church while looking for a new church home. They were warmly greeted by the ushers and told to sit anywhere they wished. So, they picked a pew about midway up the aisle. The people around them were cordial and offered to help them maneuver through the service (they were not cradle Episcopalians and hadn’t been in an Episcopal church for a long time).

Two parishioners came to assume ‘their’ seats, where the couple happened to be sitting. They noisily sat in the pew behind this couple, noting that ‘someone was in their seats’ in a less than quiet voice. People around the visitors were appalled at the audacity of these two women. Then, throughout the entire service, these two women make snide remarks about the couple, their appearance, and unfamiliarity with our service. And at the Passing of the Peace, they blatantly chose not to welcome these visitors. At the dismissal, they further remarked that they hoped these people got the point and found themselves other seats; those were ‘their’ seats!

When this was related to me, I was appalled that someone in OUR congregation would be so catty and unwelcoming to visitors. Haven’t we heard in Hebrews 12:13

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,

And doesn’t Jesus remind us:

I was a stranger and you invited me in (Matthew 25:35)?

Fortunately, in spite of the nastiness of these two long-time parishioners, the couple found the church to be a welcoming place and has since become active and contributing members of the church. This had to be the work of the Holy Spirit and those members who did extend a hand of friendship and Jesus’ love.

Just as the Eucharistic table is not our table, but God’s table, the pews do not belong to any one person (purchasing pews went out a long, long time ago!) Some of us seem to have forgotten that.

We want people to feel comfortable in church (except maybe during the sermon), but maybe it is time to shake some things up. We have become too complacent; doing the same thing, in the same place, over and over again can desensitize us to the wonders of our faith journey. If we don’t expect God to do anything different, we get what we expect – nothing new and exciting.

I suggest that for the remaining weeks of Lent and during Eastertide, we all do something different – change where we sit in church. Even if you know everyone in the congregation, this gives you the opportunity to get to know others at a deeper level. If you are new, you can begin to meet other people in the congregation, and they can get to know you.

Complacency of the same seat causes you to expect and perceive the service in the same way every Sunday. You never know what you will experience if you sit in another pew: you will hear the choir with a different ear, see the preacher for a different vantage point, and might even notice something about the church that you have never noticed before. You may even listen to the sermon differently, simply because everything feels new.

As in the manner of most Episcopalians, we all tend to sit in the back pews. This forces latecomers or newcomers to have to walk all the way to the front. Think about how unwelcome that would make you feel, especially if you were a visitor. We want to welcome new people, rather than creating an environment which suggests that they are not welcome, or draw a spotlight on them. Remember, you were a newcomer once.

Most people do not like change, that is a human trait. We are trying new things, such as the Formation Eucharist, and have plans for expanding our worship and outreach in the future. A church which does not grow becomes stagnant and does not expand the Kingdom of God or our individual faith. We want to be a vibrant congregation that shows the community the love and faith we have in God.

By changing your seat every week, we open ourselves to experiencing new and exciting things, and we will be more prepared for the changes as we move into the future. If you will not consider changing your seat, maybe you need to look at your heart. Pure stubbornness closes off the mind and heart and soul so that the teachings of Jesus cannot break through your outer shell. And isn’t that why we are here? – to grow in our faith and testimony to the world of the Kingdom of God.

Let’s try ALL of God’s pews!
 
 

8 March 2018

We, Too, WILL Be Lifted Up

John 12:20-33

O Lord Jesus, You chose the Cross as the path to glory to show us the way of salvation. May we receive the word of the Gospel joyfully and live by Your example as heirs and citizens of Your Kingdom. Amen.

We just heard in the Gospel reading that a group of Greeks approached Philip and Andrew, saying

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21)

At this time in history, Greeks were considered ‘gentiles’ – outcasts, non-religious, non-Jews, and aliens. Up to this time, the ministry of Jesus and His disciples had not included the gentiles – only those of Jewish faith. So, these Greeks, to have come to Jerusalem during the Feast of the Passover, was an unusual occurrence – and even more unusual was that they asked to see Jesus, for they had heard of Him. Why were they even interested in meeting this controversial Jewish man?

In His usual welcoming manner, Jesus instructed Philip and Andrew to bring the Greeks to him. Now, this was yet another instance where Jesus violated the societal laws – He was often speaking with non-Jews, or heathens. Jesus was always breaking all the rules. We hear nothing about these Greeks once they are taken to Jesus, but they serve as a segue to Jesus’ teachings about the inclusion of ALL in his Kingdom.

In Matthew 10:32-33, we are told:

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

This is just another example of John making it very clear that Jesus drew all kinds of people to Him, and to God.

I believe that all of us sitting here today, are a little like those Greeks, – we are searching for Jesus. We search in our own personal studies, by coming to church, through meditations and prayer, either alone or with other people. We yearn our whole lives to get to know Jesus better. We strive to understand who He had to suffer for, even though we are told that He is the Son of God, that God sent Him to save His creation.

Why the suffering?

Why the struggles?

Why the meanness?

Why the betrayal?

I grew up in the Catholic Church and I can remember as a young child, looking at the crucifix hanging over the altar with the broken, bloody body of Jesus on it, wondering what horrible things I must have done to cause Jesus to be murdered for my sins. I never could wrap my little mind around that, but I took comfort in knowing that through His death, I was forgiven of all my sins and when I died, by the promise of Jesus:

“when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32).

I didn’t understand it, but I believed, somehow, it was true, and it gave me comfort.

We also heard in Jeremiah that God

will make a new covenant with the people (Jeremiah 31:31)

and

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, (Jeremiah 31:34)

This is the promise of the Judeo-Christian covenant: that we will always be children of God, never to be forgotten. And we will take our rightful place with Jesus for eternity.

As I have grown older, I find I am more and more drawn to Jesus, the Son of Man – that Jesus became, in a short time, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by all who knew Him or followed Him – someone in whom many believed that they, too, suffered and died and would not deny Him. But I still associate most with Jesus, the Son of Man – whose one solitary life changed the world forever.

Many of you may know this prose poem by Dr. James Allan Francis, but I cannot read it enough – I want to share it with you.

And in many ways, this ‘One Solitary Life’ has shown us ‘the way’ – and indeed, lifts us up.

For we all must die – and to live knowing we must die is, in many ways, painful. We may not die on a cross – but if you have ever observed a friend suffering from cancer or MS or heart disease – this is a type of crucifixion. If you have lost a loved one to death, a child, a spouse, a parent – this is suffering. If you have known someone encased in despair and depression, mental illness, or dementia – oh, indeed, that is suffering.

In many ways, to live is to suffer – loss, confusion, disappointment, doubt – and despite the love, the joy, the successes and accomplishments, we all suffer – and fear – and hurt. At some point we all are betrayed or abandoned, persecuted or bullied, and we must die.

We are at the end of winter now, and we have been surrounded by death – trees barren, flowers gone, grass mown, days short – all dead,

but look!

Wait!

Spring is coming!

Easter is coming! Life returns in a beautiful endless cycle of resurrection and renewal.

And this is what Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God – this ‘One Solitary Life’ – came to tell us. I will leave you with this:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

Jesus promised:

Always be where I am! And I will be there, too!

Jesus defied death to show us that death is not the final thing we feared! Life goes on and on – Life is eternal – and where He is, so shall we be.

This is how we are lifted up – past sorrow and disappointment, past grief and despair, beyond loss and confusion –

to Life!

To Joy!

To Eternal Love!

This is why we follow the teachings and examples of this ’One Solitary Life’ – to learn to live a life of love, surpassing suffering, so that we may recognize and join the eternal life of Jesus, Son of Man – and Son of God. Without this ‘One Solitary Life’, this earth and all of us would be dark and dismal, indeed – but with Him, secure in the hope and promise of His life, this earth and you and I can be lifted up – each day – and for eternity.

Let us pray:

Dear Jesus, we resolve—and will try this day—to imitate Your example, to be like You. We will redouble our efforts to see Your image in all those we meet and deal with this day, and to be as loving to them as we would be to You. We resolve to avoid all those shortcomings we have and which we now sincerely desire to give up forever. Amen.
 
 

Delivered at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington & Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 18 March 2018

“MY” Pew Or God’s Pew?

I wish I could say this is a made-up story, but unfortunately it is not.

We recently had a couple visit Saint John’s while looking for a new church home. They were warmly greeted by the ushers and told to sit anywhere they wished. So, they picked a pew about midway up the aisle. The people around them were cordial and offered to help them maneuver through the service (they were not cradle Episcopalians and hadn’t been in an Episcopal church for a long time).

Two parishioners came to assume ‘their’ seats, where the couple happened to be sitting. They noisily sat in the pew behind this couple, noting that ‘someone was in their seats’ in a less than quiet voice. People around the visitors were appalled at the audacity of these two women. Then, throughout the entire service, these two women make snide remarks about the couple, their appearance, and unfamiliarity with our service. And at the Passing of the Peace, they blatantly chose not to welcome these visitors. At the dismissal, they further remarked that they hoped these people got the point and found themselves other seats; those were ‘their’ seats!

When this was related to me, I was appalled that someone in OUR congregation would be so catty and unwelcoming to visitors. Haven’t we heard in Hebrews 12:13

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,

And doesn’t Jesus remind us:

I was a stranger and you invited me in (Matthew 25:35)?

Fortunately, in spite of the nastiness of these two long-time parishioners, the couple found the church to be a welcoming place and has since become active and contributing members of Saint John’s. This had to be the work of the Holy Spirit and those members who did extend a hand of friendship and Jesus’ love.

Just as the Eucharistic table is not our table, but God’s table, the pews do not belong to any one person (purchasing pews went out a long, long time ago!) Some of us seem to have forgotten that.

We want people to feel comfortable in church (except maybe during the sermon), but maybe it is time to shake some things up. We have become too complacent; doing the same thing, in the same place, over and over again can desensitize us to the wonders of our faith journey. If we don’t expect God to do anything different, we get what we expect – nothing new and exciting.

I suggest that for the remaining weeks of Lent and during Eastertide, we all do something different – change where we sit in church. Even if you know everyone in the congregation, this gives you the opportunity to get to know others at a deeper level. If you are new, you can begin to meet other people in the congregation, and they can get to know you.

Complacency of the same seat causes you to expect and perceive the service in the same way every Sunday. You never know what you will experience if you sit in another pew: you will hear the choir with a different ear, see the preacher for a different vantage point, and might even notice something about the church that you have never noticed before. You may even listen to the sermon differently, simply because everything feels new.

As in the manner of most Episcopalians, we all tend to sit in the back pews. This forces latecomers or newcomers to have to walk all the way to the front. Think about how unwelcome that would make you feel, especially if you were a visitor. We want to welcome new people, rather than creating an environment which suggests that they are not welcome, or draw a spotlight on them. Remember, you were a newcomer once.

Most people do not like change, that is a human trait. We are trying new things at Saint John’s, such as the Formation Eucharist, and have plans for expanding our worship and outreach in the future. A church which does not grow becomes stagnant and does not expand the Kingdom of God or our individual faith. We want to be a vibrant congregation that shows the community the love and faith we have in God.

By changing your seat every week, we open ourselves to experiencing new and exciting things, and we will be more prepared for the changes as we move into the future. If you will not consider changing your seat, maybe you need to look at your heart. Pure stubbornness closes off the mind and heart and soul so that the teachings of Jesus cannot break through your outer shell. And isn’t that why we are at Saint John’s? – to grow in our faith and testimony to the world of the Kingdom of God.

Let’s try ALL of God’s pews!
 
 

Written for The Crossroads, Saint John’s Episcopal Church of Worthington & Parts Adjacent, Worthington, OH; 8 March 2018

“WE” Are Killing Our Children!

On Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love, the expectation is that couples would enjoy a nice dinner, chocolates or roses, that would normally cause their hearts to flutter. However, this year on February 14th, hearts were not moved by love, but by the horror of yet another mass murder of our school children and teachers.

This brutal and senseless slaughter of 15 children and 2 teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., was the 17th occurrence of mass murders in our country in just six weeks – more than twice the number of such horrific events as in the same time period in 2017, the 24th massacre in the last 14 years since the ban on assault weapons was allowed to lapse by Congress, and the 72nd since the deadly Columbine massacre in 1999.[1]

Of course, mental illness is involved, but all nations have citizens who are mentally ill – none of them experience nearly the amount of violent shooting deaths that we do in the United States.

Of course, our law enforcement and educational institutions overlook possible ‘bad actors’, but the fine balance between guidance and coercion in the treatment of juveniles and the mentally ill is difficult to achieve.

Of course, we can blame video games, violent movies and TV shows, and the ‘culture of violence’ in our society for its influence on our citizenry – but almost all nations experience a similar culture, and yet they do not see their children gunned down on a regular basis.

There is one major difference, and all studies point to it: the vast proliferation of guns in our society – some 40 million, or 1 in every 9 people (including babies)! Gun regulation laws are ignored – the massive sale of all types of guns – including assault weapons, abound online, at gun shows, and even in Walmart! “Waiting periods” to check for felony records or mental problems are overlooked. The gun trade to Mexico and Latin America is a land office business. Our police now use military-style weapons on citizens for the least infraction – bolstered by the gun manufacturing industry that knows no limits. Is it any wonder that our nation is engaged in its longest war ever with no end in sight? Is it any wonder that we spend nearly 57% of our budget on our military and war supplies? In light of that, should we be perplexed that a “culture of violence” is killing our children in schools, where they should be safe and free from fear? Should we be surprised that the majority of these murders have been committed by assault weapons of mass destruction – guns made only for one thing: to kill huge numbers of people as fast as possible in a war setting!!

The appalling shame is that our state and federal lawmakers are paralyzed by inaction and denial, and the “gun lobby”, financed by gun manufacturers through the National Rifle Association, has bought their silence and inaction.

Since the lapse of the 1994 ban on assault weapons by Congress, our legislators have been financed/bribed by the National Rifle Association to make sure that no legislation will be enacted that might limit their power, or the profit of gun manufacturers. On the average, for each fire arm or accessory sold by arms manufacturers, $1 is contributed to the NRA; this creates a slush fund that they then pass on to legislator’s campaigns.[2] The amount of money ‘donated’ to legislator’s campaign funds since the enactment of Citizens United, has been more than any other PAC or super-PAC. A list of the top ten senators and representatives receiving money from the NRA can be found at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/04/opinion/thoughts-prayers-nra-funding-senators.html.

Recent polls have shown that responsible gun owners and most members of the NRA favor background checks. The use of assault weapons taints the image of the average gun owner. We have the cybernet and electronic communications to provide an immediate background check on anyone desiring to purchase a hand gun, whether at a certified gun dealer or at gun shows. If the purchaser really wants the fire arm for a collection or use in hunting or sport, they should be willing to wait the time needed to perform a background check. One has to wonder, if they are not willing to have a background check, what they are hiding. And, just as in driving a car, gun owners should be required to register their guns and complete a gun safety course.

The perpetrator of the Parkland School murders purchased the assault rifle and ammunition legally – he was 18. But it is mind-boggling that he could purchase an assault rifle at the age of 18, yet cannot purchase a hand gun until 21 in the state of Florida. Just as in the case of concealed-carry laws, there should be a national guideline, including training and proficiency requirements, enforced in all states. We do this with driver’s licenses.

Is there no hope? What can we do?

As we are told in Isaiah 11:6,

A child shall lead them;

Thankfully, we see students from Parkland and across the nation now rising up in grief and anger to organize resistance to the NRA and to demand stricter gun laws. Perhaps the indignation of our children can do at last what adults have been unable to do: effect meaningful gun legislation and serious attention to mental health treatment. And we, as mothers and fathers and grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends, must join their bandwagon to FINALLY make changes in assault weapon legislation so that no more children and citizens will lose their lives by assault weapons.

There are many organizations that are supporting responsible gun ownership; find one that is in your area and become active. Pledge that you will not support with money or your vote any legislator or candidate who takes campaign funds from the NRA or who fails to support gun legislation – and ask them what their opinions are! Remember, as horrible as it sounds, it could be your child who becomes a victim of the next assault weapon massacre.

Some of these organization are:

Everytown for Gun Safety (https://everytown.org/)
Moms Demand Action (https://momsdemandaction.org/)
Grandparents Against Gun Violence (https://moksgagv.org/)
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (https://www.csgv.org/)
Americans for Responsible Solutions (https://giffords.org/)

If you are a teacher, you might consider the National School Walkout movement, joining the walkout event schedule for March 14, 2018, “for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone … to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”[3] Almost 3 million teachers and students, along with the Network for Public Education, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and other organizations have planned an action on April 20, 2018, calling for a national teachers’ strike if lawmakers continue their failure to enact “sane gun laws.”

Student survivors have organized a ‘March for Our Life: A Time to Talk About Gun Control’ in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2018. Let these children be the ones to finally get our legislators to address the issue of our children (and all Americans) dying as a result of unrestricted assault weapon legislation.

A favorite hymn of mine, “God of Mercy”, was sung last Sunday at Saint John’s Episcopal Church:

God of mercy, you have shown us ways of living that are good.
“Work for justice, treasure kindness, humbly journey with the Lord”.
Yet your people here are grieving, hurt by weapons that destroy.
Help us turn to you, believing in your ways to bring us joy.

God, we pray for those who suffer when this world seems so unfair.
May your church be quick to offer loving comfort, gentle care.
And we pray: Amid the violence, may we speak your truth, O Lord!
Give us strength to break the silence, saying “This can be no more.”

God, renew our faith and vision, make us those who boldly lead!
May we work for just decisions that bring true security.
Help us change this violent culture base on idols, built on fear,
Help us build a peaceful future with your world of people here.[4]

What we must not do is GIVE UP HOPE. In fact, in this season of Lent, let us give up hopelessness that our gun violent culture can be ended. There are things we can do and must do.
 
 
[1]      Mark Folman, Gavin Aronsen, Deana Pan, “US Mass Shootings, 1982-2018: Data From Mother Jones’ Investigation’, Mother Jones, February 14,2018.
[2]      Walter Hickey, ‘How the Gun Industry Funnels Tens of Millions of Dollars to the NRA’, Business Insider, January 16, 2013.
[3]      Organized by the Women’s March
[4]      Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, ‘God Of Mercy’; B. F. White (1844), Beach Spring

 

The Rev deniray mueller, Legislative Liaison, Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio; 19 February 2018