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In these weeks following the tragic shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, much has been written in the media about the case, and the trial has not yet even begun. The defendant’s guilt or innocence needs to be determined by a jury weighing all of the evidence, but whatever the verdict it will not bring this young man back. Nor will it alter a tragedy that did not need to occur when a neighborhood vigilante pursued, and then shot and killed an unarmed teenager. A Florida law is being cited by the defense because it justifies shooting in response to any perceived threat of violence. In my opinion, the world is not made safer or more secure by such laws nor by the cover they potentially provide for those who wish to take the law into their own hands.

Several years ago, I attended the Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C. at the invitation of a wonderful humanitarian organization called Church World Service (www.churchworldservice.org). The theme of the weekend was “How Are the Children?” If this question were asked more frequently in the halls of power and in our own communities, what a different world would result ~ a world of safety, health and well-being for all God’s children, regardless of race, religion, sexuality, economic status, different abilities, or country of origin.

While attending the conference, I was privileged to meet Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (www.childrensdefense.org), and hear her speak. She is a very passionate and persuasive woman, whose loving concern for children knows no bounds.

This prayer by Marian Wright Edelman, from her book, Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditations for Our Children, reminds us that all children are God’s children…indeed, all children are our children!

God, please stop injustice,
the killing of innocent children
by violence at home and in faraway lands.

God, please stop injustice,
the killing of innocent children
by poverty at home and abroad.

God, please stop injustice,
the killing of innocent child spirits
by vanity and greed in our land and others.

God, please stop injustice,
the assault on precious child dreams
by neglect and apathy near and far.

God, please stop injustice,
so our children may live
and love and laugh and play again.

All prayers are also invitations to act differently, to be people whose rule of life is love, to challenge the systemic injustices of our world, and to invest our lives in the reconciling and healing work of the God who made us all!

God, guide my feet, so that I might be one who helps you stop injustice and build a world where all your children may live and love and laugh and play again. Amen.