Last evening, I participated in an Interfaith Service to End Gun Violence at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. The service featured a young violinist playing a Bach sonata, Gospel music and traditional hymns. Speakers and prayer leaders from Zen Buddhism, Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith traditions leavened the evening with a unified message of gun violence prevention. Here are a few quotes from their presentations:
JEWISH: “One must not go out [on Shabbat] with a sword, nor with a bow, nor with a triangular shield, nor with a round one, nor a spear; if he does he is liable for a sin-offering.”
ZEN BUDDHIST: “Now if I were to take the life of another – of one who wishes to live, who does not wish to die, who desires happiness and is averse to suffering – that would not be just and agreeable to another.”
MUSLIM: “Speaking out against injustice doesn’t mean just helping the oppressed. Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, said to help your brother if he is the oppressed or the oppressor…. but how do we help him if he is the oppressor? ‘You can restrain him from committing the oppression.'”
CHRISTIAN: “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain….Then he began to speak, and taught them saying, ‘…Blessd are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled….Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.'”
THE CLOSING PRAYER: “May the God of the universe-the God of all peoples, races, cultures and religions-heal our country, end violence and bring reconciliation and peace. And may this same God make us impatient for justice and a better world, giving us the strength and encouragement to get off the couch and onto our feet, to work, lobby, call, email, canvass and protest to bring about gun reform.” Amen.