A pastoral letter from Hamilton Throckmorton


We are all horrified by the heinous and incomprehensible school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. For me, grief and fury, despair and distress all swirl around inside. On top of the killing of ten Black people at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo a mere ten days earlier and the church shooting in California a week or so earlier, the sorrow swells, and an insistent voice asks how such senselessness can continue apparently unimpeded.


If you’re like me, you grieve the relentless litany of such mass killings. My clergy colleague, Betsy Wooster, just yesterday called to mind the sixth Psalm: “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes” (6:6-7). These two most recent shootings, punctuating the ongoing shootings around the country, can leave us numb and shocked and distraught. “I am weary with my moaning.”


And for many of us, there is a kind of searing anger that we in this culture seem not able, or really not willing, to put a stop to this sort of senseless slaughter. Basketball coach Steve Kerr, of the Golden State Warriors, said, the day after the Uvalde shootings, that something simply must be done to put a stop to the easy access to assault weapons. I share his desperate passion. No matter what your feelings on the “right to keep and bear arms,” there is no conceivable reason why military-style assault weapons ought to be available to anyone who desires them. The only reason to own such weapons is to kill large numbers of people quickly. In what civilized society does that sort of easy access to such grotesque weapons seem wise? Part of a faithful response to these shootings, it seems to me, is to make it impossible for average citizens to procure them. I can’t help but think that God’s deepest desire in this, as in so many, matters is that we treasure each other, and that we find ways to live together in peaceable love.


I pray for God’s comfort for the victims of these recent shootings, as well as all the other mass shootings. I pray, too, for their bereft survivors. And I pray for the will in this culture to make of this earthly place a haven of peace, a home of love. We can do this. God will be our strength and our guide.