Bill Lyons: Words from Guatemala re: mass shootings in U.S.

Conference Minister Rev. Bill Lyons is currently in La Antigua, Guatemala for a month of Spanish immersion.

The familiar words jumped into my ears during noon liturgy at the cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala today. En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo... Recemos... y con tu espiritu... Señor, escucha nuestra... And then these words that I wasn’t expecting, offered by the priest before he pronounced the closing prescription during the prayers of the people, “Oremos por nuestros hermanos y hermanas en los Estados Unidos que sufrieron violencia...” “Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in the United States who are suffering violence...”

Before worship I’d enjoyed breakfast at a packed restaurante and a morning on the Plaza del Mayor with hundreds and hundreds of locals and tourists celebrating Central American music, drama, and dance. Almost to a person, friends and family told me to “be safe” during my time here. Receiving the words, “Paz sea contigo,” “Peace be with you,” and saying them into smiling eyes in a standing-room-only sanctuary two thousand miles from home, holding hands spontaneously as we recited the Lord’s Prayer - in Spanish to my right, in French to my left, and my words in English - I suddenly felt safe, so very safe. And I wondered if I felt safer than people going to church or to festivals or to the mall back home today. My prayers during worship were with the families of victims in Gilroy, in El Paso, in Dayton, and in every ‘next city’ until we find the collective will to stop hate, take away the guns, and re-humanize our neighbors. To that end let us pray to God and work together.