Statement on Robb Elementary School

Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.

—Jeremiah 31:15 (NRSV Updated Edition)

Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet, spoke of Rachel’s inconsolable wailing at the loss of her children. Today, Phillips Theological Seminary is Rachel as we wail for the children whose lives were taken at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday May 24, 2022.

The Latinx community has again been added to the list of racial and ethnic communities assaulted and left traumatized by gun violence. A lone, 18-year-old gunman, armed with two AR-15 assault rifles, which continues to be the massacre weapon of choice, entered a fourth-grade classroom and massacred 19 children whose smiles and laughter will be no more. Along with the children, we remember the legacies of the two teachers who violently died.

We pray for all the families gripped by complicated grief and the religious leaders who must find words of comfort to speak at 22 gravesites. Yes, we also pray for the confused and guilt laden family members of the gunman who gather at his grave and hide their faces in shame. We pray for the peace that passes all understanding be experienced by all who mourn this tragedy.

Finally, as we weep and wail, we pray for this nation. We pray that the rage that seems to be embedded in our nation be transformed from the embrace of destruction into the embrace of abundant life. May our refusal to be comforted become works of righteousness to stop the carnage.

Lee H. Butler, Jr., PhD
Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, William Tabbernee Professor of the History of Religions and Africana Pastoral Theology
May 27, 2022