Prayer, Guns, and a Governor's Veto
Today I joined other clergy and lay persons in Lansing, MI to pray and petition Governor Rick Snyder, to veto a bill that would allow persons with special permits to bring concealed weapons into places like schools, day care centers, and houses of worship -- places that have been no gun zones. After the tragic events of Friday the governor postponed his decision on the signing. The Metropolitan Coalition of Congregations and other groups affiliated with Michigan Prophetic Voices wrote a letter and made an appointment to present the letter to the Governor. Others of us gathered outside the George Romney Building and prayed. Below is the prayer I offered, with a slight variation.
When we arrived in Lansing this afternoon, we heard news that the Governor had decided to veto the bill. Since we didn't yet have official word, several of us offered our prayers. Shortly after I shared this prayer the delegation of clergy, including MCC chair Ben Sandin, returned with good news -- the Governor had vetoed the bill (SB59) and had agreed to be in conversation with the faith community with next steps. One area of concern is that while concealed weapons aren't allowed, persons apparently can open carry in the same spaces. This isn't acceptable and so we'll begin to push the legislature to make that change. The Governor seems open to this.
We are pleased that news of our concern weighed on the Governor and helped lead him to this decision. It is good news, but there is much more to do! The sad thing is that it took the killing of twenty innocent children to get us talking about this issue with any seriousness.
God of Grace and Mercy,We enter this public space as people of faith, and with our prayers, we seek to make this a sacred space, a place where our prayers and our petitions can be heard by you, our Creator and our Redeemer. With the Psalmist we call out to you, professing our trust in you as our rock and salvation. You are the fortress that can never be shaken (Ps. 62). Though the task before us seems daunting, we come this day confident that you hear our voices. We pray in confidence that you seek that which is good and right and just. We come knowing that you have called on us to love you with our entire being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And you have invited us to join you in the work of binding up wounds and healing broken hearts.
It is with the confidence that we come to pray, but we also come with hearts broken by the tragic event of this past Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. We grieve with the families of the twenty small children, whose lives were taken much too early, along with six adults who loved and served the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. We remember the bravery of those who sought to intervene, some of whom gave their lives as an act of love while others made sure that the innocent were protected.
It is with heavy hearts that we come to intercede on behalf of all your children, young and old who face the reality of violence in all its forms. The event of Friday, as horrific as it was, is but a reflection of the culture of violence that has struck this land, a culture of violence that each day takes the lives of children living in towns and villages and cities across this land. We know that there are no easy solutions to the problems that plague this land. We know that the issues of the day are complex, but we have confidence that with your guidance and intercession things can change, that the hearts of the people will be touched and they will do what is right and just and loving.
It is in this spirit that we intercede with you, asking that your Spirit would touch the heart of Governor Snyder so that he would find the wisdom and strength to do what is right with the gun legislation sitting on his desk, which we believe is ill-conceived. We pray that he will recognize that there are public spaces that should be sanctuaries, places were instruments of violence are not present – places like houses of worship, schools, hospitals and day care centers. May these be spaces of prayer, of healing, of learning, and of hope for a new tomorrow. Give the Governor that wisdom and strength that is required to say no to the political pressure that bears down on him, but instead will consider the faces of the children, whom Jesus called to himself and blessed.
In memory and in honor of those whose lives have been taken by instruments of violence, we offer this prayer.
In your holy name, we pray. Amen.