On Sunday, August 5, as Sikh Americans gathered for communal prayers in their temple south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a gunman entered the building, opened fire, and killed six people and wounded three others. For Sikh Americans, this event was a sad reminder of the many times in their history when they have been the victims of hate violence. Coming just two weeks after another gunman killed 12 people at a midnight screening of a Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado, it was also a grim example of the prevalence of guns in America and our vulnerability to random and/or premeditated gun violence.

And so we pray this news . . .

A Prayer for Safety as We Gather

O Lord, we your people are shocked and hurting.
Once again your people have become victims of gun violence.
Once again we see families and community members rushing to the scene, unsure whether their loved ones have been hurt.
Once again we hear reporters speculating on the motives of the killer.
Once again we learn about the lives of loved ones lost.
And once again we realize that this tragic event has taken place
where your people should have been safe —
a public space.
a temple,
a movie theater,
a school.

As we honor those who have died,
As we offer our condolences to their friends and families
May we also remember those who may now be afraid
to gather together with others,
who have moments of fear when entering their place of worship,
who are afraid of what might happen when they go to a theater,
who worry about people with guns in schools,
who do not feel safe any more.
May we and they be courageous and fearless.

In the words of the Sikh prayer,
"May God's protection and grace extend to
all the bodies of the Khalsa* wherever they are."
May all peoples feel your presence and protection.
May we feel safe as we gather together. *The word "Khalsa," referring to the Sikh community, comes from a Persian word "Khalis" which literally means Pure. Khalsa is someone who is pure hearted. It is a spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood devoted to purity of thought and action.

Next Post: A Prayer for When the Unthinkable Happens