Friday, January 28, 2011

COMMENTARY: Anglicans respond to David Kato's murder with statements from our leaders and prayers from our pews

The news of the murder of gay human rights activist David Kato in Uganda this week was another tragic reminder of how far we have yet to go to become that "kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" we pray for every Sunday. The power of violent words to incite violent actions has once again born deadly fruit and those who continue to fan the flames of hatred with homophobic rhetoric have blood on their hands as surely as those who bludgeoned David Kato to death.

Today my email inbox was full of reactions, questions, concerns and fears. But it was also full of strong statements by some key Anglican leaders and thoughtful prayers from an Anglican pew.

From the Archbishop of Canterbury:
"The brutal murder of David Kato Kisule, a gay human rights activist, is profoundly shocking. Our prayers and deep sympathy go out for his family and friends - and for all who live in fear for their lives. Whatever the precise circumstances of his death, which have yet to be determined, we know that David Kato Kisule lived under the threat of violence and death. No one should have to live in such fear because of the bigotry of others. Such violence has been consistently condemned by the Anglican Communion worldwide. This event also makes it all the more urgent for the British Government to secure the safety of LGBT asylum seekers in the UK. This is a moment to take very serious stock and to address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities."
From the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church:
At this morning’s Eucharist at the Primates Meeting, I offered prayers for the repose of the soul of David Kato. His murder deprives his people of a significant and effective voice, and we pray that the world may learn from his gentle and quiet witness, and begin to receive a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone. May he rest in peace, and may his work continue to bring justice and dignity for all God’s children.
And from Sarah in Colorado:
Dear Susan Russell,

My name is Sarah Adams, and I am just a lay person in the church; however, I read your e-mail concerning the murder of David Kato in Uganda. My heart wept wthin me and this morning I made the decision to be in prayer for David Kato, his family and his friends. Thank you for posting the e-mail so that others like myself could join in prayer too.

Many years ago, I wrote this poem based on the 23rd Psalm. I share this poem as a prayer for David today.

The Lord is my Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in soft green grass.
And as I lay my head on this earth, my weary soul comes to rest.
My shepherd wakes me and takes my hand; he leads me beside a cool mountain stream..
I dance in her waters, I am refreshed. I leap in his arms and sigh.

As the sky darkens, the thunder roars; the rain pours upon me and I am alone.
But my shepherd's strong hands take me in his great arms, and he leads me along,
he leads me along, safe and warm through the storm.

And the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in soft green grass.
And as I lay my head on this earth, my weary soul comes to rest.

In prayer,
Sarah Adams, Denver Colorado
We pray in our "Prayers of the People" for "those whose lives are closely linked with ours." Today may we be given the grace to pray that prayer realizing that there is not a single member of the human family whose life is not in some mysterious way linked with ours. That all are equally created, loved and blessed by the God who loved us enough to become one of us to show us how to walk in love with each other. And then let's figure out how to work together -- whether we're an Archbishop in Canterbury, an activist in Uganda or "just a lay person" in Colorado -- to speak out, act up and end the blight homophobia once and for all.

(And just for the record, Sarah: there is no such thing as "just" a lay person. You rock!)

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