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In memory of Sandy Hook, an Advent prayer to end gun violence

National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath is Dec. 13-16

By Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

If you Google “Sandy Hook,” the search engine’s “People also search for …” menu offers these grim options: 2012 Aurora shooting, Stoneman Douglas High School, Columbine High School massacre, 2014 Isla Vista massacre, Orlando nightclub shooting.

And it could go on.

Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a tragedy that took the lives of 20 first grade students, six school staff members, the shooter and his mother. But it is far from an aberration in 21st century America, which is why National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath has become part of Advent observances in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In a post on the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Mission Yearbook for Dec. 13, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program coordinator Carl Horton describes the Dec. 13-16 observance as an “Advent-tide ‘Sabbath,’ a set of days when people of faith add gun violence prevention to the waiting and watching of this season.”

“Many people thought that inconceivable event (the Sandy Hook tragedy) would be the tipping point in our public and legislative complacency following mass shooting incidents in this country,” Horton’s post states. “Sadly, since then we have instead grown increasingly numb, as these events become the ‘new normal’ and 600,000 Americans have been killed or injured by guns in the subsequent years.”

“Presbyterians are invited to begin this sad Sabbath by tolling bells in their homes and places of worship for the 26 Sandy Hook victims,” the post states. “Keep ringing if you’d like to remember the 71 killed and 42 injured victims of mass shootings so far this year. And while you ring, pray for the communities and contexts impacted by these latest tragedies. They join a long and growing list of places that never thought it could happen to them but have now been touched by the sickening epidemic of indiscriminate gun violence.”

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has put together an extensive resource page regarding gun violence, from policies and actions of the General Assembly to the documentary “Trigger” by David Barnhart to worship resources for youth and adults.

The Mission Yearbook post ends with this prayer: “God of life’s sanctity, turn our bells into bullhorns, our thoughts into actions, our bursts of outrage into sustained efforts and our momentary prayers into transformed spirit-filled living.

“Make us instruments of your peace. Amen.”

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