I was invited to speak on June 1 at a press conference for National Gun Violence Awareness Day. I was asked to share my perspective as a faith leader. Here are the remarks I made:
I speak this morning from the heart of a tradition dedicated to the pursuit of peace. We see that in Jesus who advocated loving, non-violent resistance by “turning the other cheek.” We hear that in the words of the prophet Isaiah who proclaimed, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
I also represent a faith community comprised of people holding a range of political opinions and yet work together diligently at finding common ground in our pursuit of the common good. As you walk into our church, you’ll see a sticker at each entrance that reads “Perfect love casts out fear: no weapons here.” That’s the commitment that we have made together as a community of faith and as a collection of individuals who often can’t agree on much else.
Fifty local faith leaders made the same point in a press release sent out in the aftermath of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting: “Fear is a strong force in the world, but we believe faith–in all the many expressions and traditions we represent as well as those unrepresented–is the strongest force in the world for good. Dr. King’s words still ring true, ‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’”
On their behalf and speaking from the heart of Jesus’ message of love and peace, I would urge you to find common ground with your neighbors, to offer a listening ear and an open mind, and to recommit yourself to the common good so that the safety of all is held in higher regard than the convenience of the few.
I pray that God will bless us in this present moment so that we might work together toward a future of peace.
Your friend and fellow minister,
Rev. Steve Savides