This morning, I took a moment to make my preparations for the days and nights that are surely coming soon: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the quiet tomb of Saturday, Easter Sunday.

I baked bread for this evening’s service. I love the stage at the beginning when the yeast is just beginning to come to life, a foretaste of the rising to come.

Then, while the dough was doing its thing, I went out to the forge, made one more cross out of gun barrels.

I can’t think of a better time to be recommitting to this work than Holy Week, when we once used wood and metal to crucify the author of life.

Yesterday, a group of us prayed the Stations of the Cross at church, and we met the women of Jerusalem, “who bewailed and lamented him”

But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

And we prayed,

Teach your Church, O Lord, to mourn the sins of which it is guilty, and to repent and forsake them; that, by your pardoning grace, the results of our iniquities may not be visited upon our children and our children’s children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We met his afflicted mother, reading,

Vast as the sea is your ruin. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.
A sword will pierce your own soul also: And fill your heart with bitter pain

and my mind was flooded with those images from the news feeds outside schools and reunification centres; the twisted faces of mothers who would never be the same again.

Teach us to mourn our sins, to repent and forsake them, that the results of them may not be visited upon our children and their mothers.

And yet, the closer we came to Christ’s death on the Cross, and the quiet tomb, the louder the whispers of resurrection.

Death would not defeat God. Death would not be permitted to have the final word. The Word of God, the author of life, had other plans for the Cross, and we no longer fear it.

How we get from here to there with gun violence is fraught, but I am convinced that the way of the Cross is our roadmap, and that the Prince of Peace is our leader.

It is past time, one way or another, for us to repent of our employment of metal and wood to mar the life that God has freely given to us and to all of God’s children, all who are made in the image of God. Whether that looks like an individual change of heart and priorities, or a petition to the legislature to help us to rein in the proliferation of deadly weaponry in our communities, or interventions and support to turn aside the intentions of one who would harm themselves, or another, there is never nothing that we can do. With God, nothing will be impossible.

When we pray for an end to gun violence, for an end to school shootings, for a reversal of the trend that has made injuries from firearms the leading cause of death for America’s children and teenagers, may we turn toward the Cross.

As we take Christ’s body in our hands tonight, may we learn from Jesus’ embodiment of the prayers he had for his people.

May we, however hard it is, however long it takes, however heavy the stone across the tombs, the massed and multiplying graves of our people; may we find with him our resurrection.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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