“Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” Genesis 4:10
The City of Raleigh is mourning. A teenage gunman Thursday, October 13 in the East Raleigh Hedingham neighborhood shot seven people, killing five. The mass shootings we read about in other cities has now become local. Our hearts are heavy. We have more questions than answers. We pray for our city. We pray for healing.
The murder of Abel by Cain is the first recorded taking of life in holy scripture. Cain killed Abel out of anger and jealousy. God told Cain in Genesis 4:10, “Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” Are we listening? The blood of those five souls killed in Hedingham is crying out from the ground. The souls of all killed in American mass shootings is crying out from the ground. The souls of those who die by gun violence is crying out from the ground.
Saint Ambrose joins with other people of faith and goodwill to pray for our city. Prayer is our first response. Our congregation has a history of offering prayer to bring advocacy and awareness to gun violence. Some will remember the paper prayer chain that encircled our worship space that our Episcopal Youth Community (EYC) made. Each link contained a petition to God, some in response to gun violence. Some will remember praying the Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting one Sunday listing more than 50 mass shootings since 2018. It took almost ten minutes to pray as a weight of heaviness fell over the congregation.
Saint Ambrose celebrates our 154th Anniversary this Sunday, October 16. Again, we will pray for those killed by gun violence in Raleigh. The religious icon of “Our Lady of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence” will be a part of the worship service. Sometimes we display this icon after mass shootings as she embodies the prayers of all killed by gun violence. Marq Doox, an African American icon writer living in San Francisco, wrote this icon in 2015 after the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO. Fr. James Martin, the Jesuit theologian, wrote, “Our Lady prays for all who are targeted by gun violence: African-Americans, the poor and marginalized, and police officers. All are her children. All are our brothers and sisters. Let us ask Our Lady to pray for us.”
We pray for those murdered in the Hedingham Mass Shooting. We offer gratitude to those first responders who labor to keep the community safe and whole. They responded with courage Thursday evening. We must work to change the laws and culture around guns by advocating for a study of gun violence as a public health crisis, implement laws to decrease gun violence, and supporting common sense gun legislation. Our siblings’ blood is crying out to God from the ground. God, grant us ears to hear and act.
The Reverend Jemonde Taylor