Last night, not far from the place where a sniper shot President Kennedy, another sniper targeted police and transit police officers. They were on duty during what was, until the shooting broke out, a peaceful protest notable for the cooperative spirit between law enforcement officers and members of the community who had taken to the streets to protest the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Five officers are now dead, and seven officers and two civilians were wounded.

Today, filled with surging emotions and thoughts too many to name, we begin again our collective grief for those whose lives ended too soon and all who will forever mourn their loss. I thank you for including in your prayers all the law enforcement officers who go to work everyday with the awareness that their lives may be at risk, those of all races who gathered last night to work for a society in which all of our citizens are safe, and those who fear, not without reason, that our homeland is becoming a war zone.

This morning, on behalf of all in the Diocese of Washington, I reached out to my counterpart Bishop George Sumner of Dallas to offer our condolences and assure him of our prayers for all the people of his diocese, and in particular for those who work in law enforcement.

Then I called my sister who lives not far from Dallas. Her youngest son is currently serving in military law enforcement in South Korea. “When will this end?” she had just emailed him. His response: “When Jesus comes back.” “I’m ready for him to come back,” she told me. One some days we all feel that way.

But until that time when all is taken from our hands, we are among those called to be instruments of peace in times of violence. For even when hope falters, hope for Christians is never lost. As Bishop Sumner wrote to his diocese:

I have no easy answer to the crisis in which we find ourselves as Americans. But this much is clear: Dallas Christians, black and white, of all denominations, are called to stand together. As one we pray for those harmed. We who do so are already one body in Jesus Christ, in spite of all the fault lines in our society. May the Holy Spirit guide us all in discerning the shape of our common witness.

It has been a dreadful week in America. But in the hardest times, resolve can emerge to forge a new way. May it be so today. We are one people, called in this hour to face the hardest truths, together. We can do this, with God’s help, and we must.

The Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of Washington
Interim Dean, Washington National Cathedral