Updated: President Obama has asked the nation "to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives."
"It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart,” he said.
The President will observe the moment of silence with White House staff on the South Lawn. The President has also signed a proclamation calling for flags to be flown at half-staff.
As Episcopalians, we also might draw upon some of the resources that guide us in our common worship as we seek divine guidance in understanding what has happened and in discerning how to respond to this tragedy. Some Episcopal Churches are offering special prayers and public services. We are interested in hearing about them.
Rep Gabrielle Giffords and her aide, Gabe Zimmerman, who was killed in the shooting, are Jewish. As Cathy Grossman of USA Today notes, at Giffords synagogue yesterday, the congregation said the Mi Sheberakh, the prayer for the sick that calls on the God of the patriarch and matriarchs of the faith to heal and strengthen the ill.
Grossman writes: (In a note of terrible irony, Debbie Friedman, the Jewish liturgist who set this prayer and many others to music in chants used by many U.S. Jewish congregations, died today).
Listen to Nick Knisely, Café blogger and Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, preach in response to violent events that unfolded nearby on Saturday.
"If the Baptism of Jesus means anything to us today, it is because, as St. Augustine pointed out, Jesus' human mother means that he is both fully human as well as being fully divine. When he comes up out of the water, and the voice of God is heard by the children of Israel for the first time in thousand of years, the delight that God has in him, is also speaking of God's delight in us.
"But we are only in this scene because, as the Prayer Book says, we are part of the body of Christ. And it is our participation in this body that will ultimately give us the ability to overcome our tendency to objectify another and subject them to violence. Because as long as we can see each other as members of the same body, we will not be able to dismiss them as 'scum,' 'vermin' or 'parasites' as graffiti I have seen here in Arizona has described our President.
"And so if we are to stand against the flames of violence and hatred that even now licking at the edges of our state, we are going to have to live into our vocation as members of the Body of Christ. We are going to have create humanizing relationships with each other that will make it impossible to objectify our sister and brother. We are going to have to make our city, our state and our country into our neighborhood. We must build walls of love with each one of us serving as a brick in that wall. And those walls will stand against the flames.
Some people tell me that I'm being naive. I probably am. But violence begets violence. By preaching love, the Church has stood fast against empire after empire. It is our way. And it's time we got to it.
"This is what we are called to do. We are called to follow our Lord who Isaiah describes as a person who will not cry or lift up his voice against others or shout in the streets; he will not bend a bruised reed; and he will not quench a dimly burning wick; but he will love, and in his love he will gather all people into himself, into one body united in one Lord, and sharing with one another one life in this extraordinary world.
"I really do believe that as we do that - as we welcome people into relationship with ourselves and with one another and into this place and into all places, these kinds of violence - this rhetoric that we are all terrified of as getting out of control - simply will not have the oxygen it needs to burn the way it's beginning to burn. That is our mission as Christian people, united in baptism, and living in the hope of the resurrection.
"It's scary, and it's hard, and we have to do it."