Image from Rev. Varghese’s blog
St Mark’s in the Bowery ended their Palm Sunday service by processing out to the yard, where they planted bamboo crosses with t-shirts to memorialize children who were killed or injured by people holding firearms.
Varghese writes about the difficulty in phrasing her message on a Huffington Post blog, noting that the records are incomplete and short of details. The only statistics she could find showed over 700 children killed or injured with firearms since Easter 2014.
From the blog:
The language is awkward. It hurts my pride not to be more eloquent, especially when it will be elegantly printed on vinyl. We think it had to be awkward because we wanted to be clear that it is not as though guns grew legs or wings and went after our children. We could not just say “killed with a gun,” there were people involved. Someone bought a gun. We also do not mean to say that people who happened to be carrying guns murdered children in some other grizzly way that did not include using a gun. It is awkward because the only statistics we could find put injuries and deaths together, and we did not have the fortitude to sift through them to count only the deaths, and we know that no list is comprehensive.
The memorial was covered in The Times-Picayune, which focused on the murder of 8-year old Paris Williams of New Orleans, and The Guardian, which published a gallery of photos and quotes from Varghese.
Rev. Varghese quote from the Guardian:
“Our laws mean we are vulnerable to guns,” she said. “Somehow we’ve tied up our freedom not to healthcare or nutrition or education … but to owning a gun.”
In a prophetic, sermon-like blog entry, Varghese suggests that this memorial makes death less abstract and more real for Holy Week.
Again, from the blog:
If you are worried that Holy Week is too abstract in your church, I can recommend illustrating death, specifically those we can prevent with political will that would involve taking on a fundamental assumption of the state, those deaths that feel like sacrifices to an angry god.
What are other examples of unjust death that you can bring to Holy Week? Does this perspective inspire you to try something different for your Holy Week services next year?
Posted by David Streever