Monday morning, we all woke up to the news that hits in the gut—the all-too-familiar tragedy; another mass shooting. It breaks my heart that we can so casually say “another” teamed up with such a horrific event that we can scarcely understand it. Yet, we do.

Being from Florida, this news immediately took me back to the Pulse nightclub shooting. The chilling detail of that night that was seared into my brain, my heart, and my soul, was the testimony from law enforcement who told us that the worst thing for them was walking through the devastation and hearing phone after phone ringing. Phones that would not be answered, representing frantic loved-ones desperate for news of whether their son, brother, sister, daughter, father, mother, or dear friend might return home safely.

I heard that same testimony from Las Vegas law enforcement yesterday.

It was at that point I realized that this crime of mass-destruction was just as “close to home” for our community as it was for mine. There may be some of you who know a person who was killed, injured, or traumatized by the events of that night. If so, we are here to listen and help process that grief and fear.

We hold our sister churches in Las Vegas in our prayers, knowing that their return to wholeness will be a very long journey and the scars of their terror will last for years to come.

I was, however, powerfully moved by the response of our own beloved Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries of UCC and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO., when she said:

May the groaning pains of this nation lift us up from our praying knees to call on policymakers to demand legislative changes to gun laws in this country. May we stop wringing our hands in helpless disbelief and satiating our hearts with false narratives of lone gunmen. Because until we do all we can to prevent such mass shootings, no gunman acts alone. From Sandy Hook to Texas to Charleston to Virginia Tech to Pulse to Las Vegas… Lord, hear our cries and compel us to act.”

From her pen to Gods ears. From her heart to ours. Let us all be outraged at why this could have happened. Automatic, and semi-automatic guns are not weapons for hunting or for protection from home invasion… these are only weapons for killing people; and in just this one night, 58 murders and 527 injuries are proof that we must stand up for these folks and change our gun laws.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Gaye