Moving from Prayer through Sorrow to Action
A Holy Week Message from Bishop Franklin
Last Saturday I was, with many other Episcopalians clergy and lay, at the Buffalo March for Our Lives in Niagara Square.
Like many of these large demonstrations there were remarks by political leaders and community organizers and signs and chanting. What made this one different was the leadership and message of young people from all over Western New York, including Anna Engel who is a member of St. Matthias in East Aurora.
What the young people said to the 3000 or so of us gathered in the square echoed what the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been saying. They have grown up with active shooter drills and frequent mass shootings at schools and movie theaters and concerts and churches. They want to feel safe at school and if the adults aren’t willing to take action, they will.
A few weeks ago no one would have expect that high school students would be speaking to and inspiring the majority of Americans who are in favor of both sensible gun laws and increased mental health services.
On Sunday I marched at Christ Church in Lockport with the rest of the congregation as we remembered the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We marched around the church and shouted “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and then, a few minutes later, as we read the Passion, shouted “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
No one, except Jesus, who was a part of the original Palm Sunday march in Jerusalem all those centuries ago thought that the victory that Jesus would bring would come at the cross and at the tomb. Yet the triumphal entry led to the cross which led to the empty tomb which led all of us to eternal life.
I believe that the prayers that began on February 14, Ash Wednesday, with the death of 17 people in Parkland, Florida have led our nation through sorrow for those lives lost and families and friends in grief to the action that we are seeing all around our country.
I will continue to stand with the young people of our nation in taking action to make our schools and our streets safe places for our children and grandchildren to grow up. It is our responsibility as adults to make the world a better place for them and, as they have made clear, if we don’t, they will do it themselves.
Whether they knew it or not, three thousand of our friends and neighbors were marching and demonstrating and demanding that our nation embrace the Gospel values of love and reconciliation, of healing and peace. The young speakers’ calls for social justice, to move us from embracing death to embracing life, were the very words that Jesus would have spoken.
Now, as the Easter season is dawning, may Jesus be with us as together we determine what our next ACTION should be.
God bless you as we keep marching in the days ahead.
Bishop Bill Franklin
Diocese of Western New York