Category Archives: Gun Violence Prevention

We Remember

We Remember

 

We remember twenty children, six adults

And far … far … too many gun violence victims before and since.

 

We remember faces, young and old

Brimming with courage and determination,

Radiating mischief and love,

Faces frozen in time on desks and walls.

 

We remember tastes that formed and sustained:

Birthday cakes and Thanksgiving, picnics and potlucks –

Family and friends breaking bread together.

 

We remember joy overflowing,

Laughter reverberating with raucous delight,

Now echoing dimly within.

 

We remember smells – precious, illusive,

That threaten to unravel composure,

Whisking mourners warp speed to a moment in time, as they inhale deeply,

Holding a memory as long as possible.

 

We remember grieving hearts in need of resuscitation

Mouth to mouth, chest-thumping assistance

To make it through each day.

Lost in a lingering limbo of despair

Seeking to find footing and rediscover direction.

 

With each sight, smell, taste, sound

May we remember victims’ dreams and daring

Their curiosity and caring

Striving to honor them with our lives.

May we remember their gifts, irretrievable,

As we pledge to establish a safer world.

 

©December 1, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

Fourth Anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook

To use this or any liturgy written by Cynthia Langston Kirk please include the copyright in your bulletin and/or on your screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one time worship use, please contact Cynthia at: calkirk@aol.com

Riots of Care

Riots of Care

Incite a riot of care

A holy war of compassion

Acts of the heart with no destruction,

Only solidarity, mending and generosity.

Stand with indigenous people

In the freezing cold

Washing dishes, bearing witness.

Wear a safety pin, if you choose

A simple gesture of welcome

To transgender, lesbian, gay

Filled with fear for just reason.

Wear it for our dark-skinned brothers and sisters

Reflecting the belief that “Black Lives Matter”.

Wear it for immigrants who fear the lady’s lamp

Is not lit for them.

Wear it for people of other religions

Or no religion

Standing with people and the belief

That this country was founded on religious freedom.

Wear it for gun violence prevention and for the earth

That the killing and damage cease.

Whether or not you attach a pin to your chest

Pray for civility, for some purpling of the nation

Through the sharing of our stories.

Find support, be support.

Become educated on facts, increase your knowledge.

Become involved, increase involvement in protecting others,

In caring for the outcast, the stranger, the planet.

Be loving. Be bold.

For ultimately relationship and reverence overcome bigotry,

Kindness defeats fear,

And loves conquers hatred.

©November 3, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

One row of beads strung from my safety pin:

Deep, iridescent purple – one on top and bottom

Blue and red coming together enough for people to be safe and

welcome

Iridescent green – Earth

Deep orange – Gun Violence prevention

Two brown beads, different shades – people of color, Black Lives Matter

Iridescent pale green – Immigrants

Red, yellow, green, Blue, purple – L,G,B

Pink, white, blue – Transgender people

Gold – people of different faith beliefs

Deep iridescent purple

Cynthia Langston Kirk, calkirk@aol.com

 

 

 

 

Grief-stricken God

Grief-stricken God,
We are silent out of respect for the 49 killed and the 53 wounded and because no word is sufficient for a time such as this. We are heart-broken for lives cut far too short and for families, friends and our nation that will never recover fully from their loss and their injuries.

You have deemed and named each of us beloved. We were created out of love, for love and yet we are often as drawn to judgment and labeling as a moth is drawn to flame. Open our eyes and hearts to the beauty of each person. Remind us that the way of love is challenging and demanding, but only love can transform the world for the good.

Holy One, help us to search deep within our hearts and actions to see how we are complicit in these murders. Who do we judge? Who do we hate? Of what person or group are we ignorant? O God, forgive us our narrow vision of love that is puny instead of bold and courageous and all-encompassing.

Help us to move from our delightful conversations with people we know and trust to dialogues in neighborhoods and homes and churches with people who are different from us. Help us have difficult discussions with people about matters that are dividing our nation because if we continue erecting walls with bricks or words, death in all manners of expression will continue.

Help us not to stay silent when the massacres of our Native brothers and sisters are forgotten. Help us not to stay silent when our children and young people fear to go to the grocery store or a movie or dancing. Help us not to stay silent when our African American brothers and sisters fear to go to a park or be pulled over or go to church. Help us not to stay silent when our Muslim brothers and sisters are targeted and hated because of their religion. Help us not to stay silent when our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are feared, despised, marginalized and attacked.

O God, empower us to be your people; to not only say we follow the Prince of Peace, but to live and act and vote as if we do.

God, in your mercy, hear our prayers, Amen.

 

©June 15, 2016 Cynthia Langston Kirk

To use this or any writing by Cynthia Langston Kirk, please include the copyright and Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk’s full name in your bulletin and/or screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one-time worship or one-time retreat/small group, please contact Cynthia at calkirk@aol.com.

 

 

Stop

Stop

 

Stop responding with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

For soon this nation will be blind and unable to eat.

Quit assessing strangers solely as danger

Instead of future friends.

Stop judging men with dark skin exclusively as threats

Instead of God’s beloved.

Resist inhaling fear and exhaling anger

Instead of marveling with reverence at creation.

Avoid the notion that people are terrorists

Simply because their religious beliefs and practices

Are different from yours.

Relinquish the opinion that anyone ever deserves a bullet

Because they do not fit your theology, philosophy

Or what is known and comfortable to you.

Cease making loaded weapons accessible

To children and hotheads

For tragedy often follows.

Stop allowing individuals with violent track records

Or mental instability

Possession of Uzis, glocks and the like

For tragedy often follows.

Release the perception that a gun under pillow

Equals safety

Ignoring the multitude of family members

Who have accidentally been shot by a loved one.

Do not encourage weapons as play

Then be surprised when someone’s game of life is over.

 

Must our citizens don some shade of orange wherever they go

Wearing the established message of hunters,

“I’m here. Don’t shoot me”?

Will we continue to wring our hands,

Fall on our knees in prayer

With each new story of death by gun?

Or will we acknowledge the death toll far too massive,

Resolving to vote, converse, march, write,

Preach, advocate, educate and

Participate in any peaceful measure to

Stop gun violence?

 

©February 23, 2016  Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk,

Gun Violence Survivor

To use this or any writing by Cynthia Langston Kirk, please include the copyright and Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk’s full name in your bulletin and/or screen. If you want to use the writing in any other way than one-time worship or one-time retreat/small group, please contact Cynthia at calkirk@aol.com.

Wearing Orange

Bishop orange stole 1 (1)

 

 

Orange may seem like a strange color this time of year. Your home may be sparkling with red and green, blue and silver or just the colors of your daily life.

 

As the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre approaches, many people across our nation will wear orange as they walk for Gun Violence Prevention this Sunday. They will wear orange because it was a color chosen by teens in Chicago to honor their friend Hadiya Pendleton, the color that hunters wear to send the message “I’m here. Don’t shoot me”.

I’ve read, prayed, listened, pondered, researched and still my heart aches. Most of us, on both sides of the gun conversation, feel desperate and fearful, two emotions that rarely lead to wise actions or grace-filled living.

I come at life from a Christian perspective, but know that most other religions share the same  reverence for life that Christ manifests. Religions are not our problem. It is individuals or groups using their particular view of religion or God as a shield, as a divisive lens, as a justification for beliefs, rhetoric or action that would cause harm to anyone else.

As a mother, grandmother, godmother, wife, friend, minister, gun violence survivor, I cannot be quiet in the face of violence and discrimination. I cannot be silent when people continue to be gunned down in their homes or any public place imaginable. I cannot refrain from writing or speaking when a group, any marginalized group, is threatened because they are likened to extremists or because they do not fit the norm or the known. I cannot be quiet while people incite others to take up their guns and commit murder.

It’s easy to feel that we are each trying to empty the ocean with our own little teaspoon. It is easy to feel paralyzed, but inaction is not effective for change. Talk to someone who believes differently than you. Call your elected officials. Vote. Educate yourself and others.

One little thing I am doing with my teaspoon is making orange stoles for at least ten clergy. He or she can wear the stole on Gun Violence Awareness Day June 2nd.  She or he can wear the stole on any Sunday to lift up awareness and encourage action. Each of the stoles is a simple orange stole with a little triangle of green to represent hope.

The first orange stole I made was for Bishop Robert Hoshibata, our resident bishop in the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Bob (pictured) has taken a strong stance on gun violence prevention and is imploring every congregation in our conference to engage in education about the issues.

I will be glad when we no longer need wear orange and work for gun violence prevention. Until then, I’ll keep speaking out, praying, writing, voting, trying to have conversations and buying orange fabric.

December 11, 2015 Cynthia Langston Kirk