During the last week of Lent, congregations in our conference come together for a lenten supper. It’s a diverse group of folks from urban and suburban congregations both large and small.
I sat with several folks from different congregational units. We talked about new program resources, and after I invited them all to the Triennial Gathering, a woman who is active in her unit asked, “What’s our next Women of the ELCA assignment?”
I responded with Rachel’s Day, which can be observed any time, but Women of the ELCA suggests planning it on the first Sunday in May. Rachel’s Day is a time to mourn the loss of our children and to renounce the forces of violence and fear.
Her response to my suggestion was revealing. In a nutshell, she said was that gun violence is a problem somewhere else–the children in her congregation and community were safe, and Rachel’s Day is a day that they don’t need to observe.
I guess she could tell from the look on my face that her answer caught me and the rest of the women off guard. Even though she tried to explain what she meant, the women at the table were still uncomfortable. Some of them are members of inner-city churches in Chicago, where gun violence is a real problem.
[bctt tweet=”Children have lost their lives to gun violence this past year in neighborhoods everywhere.” username=”womenoftheelca”]
I didn’t say anything, but others offered that:
–Gun violence is part of American culture, and it affects the lives of all children.
–It shapes how their generation will trust, love, do business, and live in community.
–It doesn’t just happen somewhere else. No community, no group of people, is isolated from it.
–It happens daily on inner-city streets and in Amish communities.
A recent independent documentary “Newtown” describes the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six teachers were killed on December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since Sandy Hook, a gun has been fired on school grounds nearly once a week, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
Just look around at the children who have lost their lives to gun violence this past year in neighborhoods everywhere.
So is observing Rachel’s Day a foolish hope? Most of the folks at the table didn’t think so.
Valora Starr is director for discipleship, Women of the ELCA. Download a free copy of our Rachel’s Day resource.
Photo of Gracious Saviour Lutheran Church, Detroit, Mich.