By Rev. Greg Little
Easter Sunday, I rang the bell at St. James Anglican Church in Parkhill, Ontario at 9:00 a.m. This was in response to the request by the Archbishop Linda Nichols, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, that churches ring their bells on Easter Sunday even though we are not able to assemble for worship.
For the last two Sundays following, I have continued ringing the bell at 9:00 as to mark the presence of the church in in the community. This has been well received – I have received some positive feedback and no complaints. Yesterday, rather than ringing the bell, I tolled the bell 22 times in memoriam for the victims that had been killed by the gunman in Nova Scotia a week ago.
When I decided to do this, I wondered whether it would be appropriate to toll the bell 23 times to include the perpetrator who was shot killed by police. I questioned in my mind if this would be appropriate considering what is the appropriate Christian response to someone who had caused such violence and pain in the community and beyond. After all, the one who we follow has commanded us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek. Upon reflection, I decided that it would not be appropriate or fair to the victims or their loved ones to include this person – who I will not name. Our response to that person who did these unspeakable things must be at a different time and in a different context. Perhaps this can be in the context of an attempt to try and make sense of what seems to be a senseless act of evil.
I want to repeat here the prayer which was received from Archbishop Ron Cutler of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and P.E. I. which I prayed before the bell was tolled in memoriam for the victims:
A Collect Prayer for a Day of Gun Violence
O God, you who are the glorious Lord of life, of death, of resurrection; We ask you in the Name of your Son who is the Prince of Peace; Make us mindful of your eternal presence of life in the midst of shock and grief; We lift before you all affected by this mass shooting in our Province Nova Scotia: the dead, the wounded — all who know and love the victims; the RCMP and all first responders, all government leaders. Keep our communities already reeling from the shock of the reality of Covid-19 safe. Draw us ever closer together. May we be a continuing source of comfort and care to one another. May this be so to your glory so that the work of your redeeming, transforming love may be known to all. We pray this in the Name of the Holy One who enters into fearful, hurting lives; the One who says, “Peace be with you. My peace I give you.” Amen. (Fr. Douglas Beck)
Heidi Stevenson, Lisa McCully, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins, Emily Tuck, Jolene Oliver, Aaron Tuck, Jamie Blair, Greg Blair, Corrie Ellison, Gina Goulet, Tom Bagley, Kristen Beaton, Joey Webber, John Joseph Zahl, Elizabeth Joanne Thomas, Lillian Campbell Hyslop, Heather O’Brien, Joy Bond, Peter Bond, Dawn Madsen, Frank Gulenchyn
Rest eternal grant them O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.
Rev. Greg Little is the honorary assistant for St. John the Evangelist Strathroy and St. James Parkhill.