"God of peace, open the eyes of those who want to dominate others through violence, oppression, hatred, and ignorance. Help the leaders of all nations see that peace will make a better world for today's youth and tomorrow's children."
from "Call On Me: A Prayer Book for Young People."
Teenagers have recently been in the center of media attention nationally. With the increase of mass shootings in schools, specifically the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in March, high schoolers have been speaking out against gun violence.
Also in March, there was a threat of gun violence at a high school close to St. Bart’s. In response, several students from the school – as well their parents, and parents from our St. Bart’s preschool – gathered in the sanctuary to pray for peace. I sent this missive out to families in our community:
“In the face of violence, Jesus calls us to take a radical posture: one of love and compassion. It seems that all around us, in the midst of our communities, there is violence and hatred everywhere.
But we follow Jesus, and so we know a deeper truth: all around us, there is God. When we feel scared, overwhelmed, angry, and anxious about the safety of our children, we gather to pray. We gather to remind ourselves and others of the truth: that Jesus is the light. And “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it” (John 1:5).
This is what it means to live as Easter people, to live in the resurrected live of Jesus. Have you had conversations with teenagers in your life about gun violence? Have you really stopped to hear them? Here are some tips for talking with your children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, neighbors, and fellow church members:
- Ask about their feelings around violence.
- Don’t lecture, listen.
- Ask them if you could pray with them about their fears/anxieties/worries, or if you could pray for them later.
- Ask what they love about school. What makes them happy?
- Ask, “does your faith in God affect how you feel about violence?”
- Ask about their hopes for the future – what kind of world do they want to create?