Recently we celebrated Pentecost and many in our churches wore red. I was at The Church of the Nativity, Northborough that Sunday and they take this tradition seriously. I looked out at a sea of red. Red stands for the fire of the Holy Spirit and illustrates our prayer:
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. Amen
Now I invite you to wear another color that also proclaims God’s love and a desire to renew the face of the earth. The color is orange.
In 2013 Hadiya Pendleton – a majorette and high school student from the south side of Chicago – was shot and killed just a week after marching in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. Soon after this tragedy Hadiya’s childhood friends asked their classmates to commemorate Hadiya’s life – and the lives of hundreds claimed by Chicago gun violence each year – by wearing orange. Why orange? They said,
“Orange is used because hunters wear orange to warn other hunters not to shoot. By wearing orange, we are showing others that we are human and wish not to be gunned down.”
Numerous groups, including one I belong to – Bishops United Against Gun Violence – have declared June 2nd (Hadiya’s birthday) as Gun Violence Awareness Day. As a sign of solidarity “that we are human and wish not to be gunned down” are all invited to wear orange on that day. Clergy are invited to wear orange stoles on Sunday June 5th. Mine is being made now.
Gun violence is a public health crisis in our country. On average 91 Americans a day are killed due to gun violence. The stories and the statistics are staggering. Here are a few links to the facts.
And, because we are the people who wish to “renew the face of the earth,” we need to act on what we know. Bishops United Against Gun Violence urges our cities, states and nation to adopt policies and pass legislation that will reduce the number of Americans killed and wounded by gunfire. These include common sense gun safety measures that already have the support of a majority of gun owners, such as:
- handgun purchaser licensing
- background checks on ALL gun purchasers
- restrictions on gun ownership by domestic abusers
- classification of gun trafficking as a federal crime
- encouragement for the development of “smart gun” technology
- federal funding of research into gun violence prevention strategies
And on June 2nd wear orange. Post your photo on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtags: #WearOrange and #Episcopal. Bear witness to the belief that our country can do better – much better – in addressing this public health crisis. Wear it because we are the Jesus Movement, because we are out to change the world from the nightmare it is for so many into the dream God has for it.