Jesus was a game changer. “He interrupted what was the status quo. Sisters and brothers, I think that is our challenge, that’s the challenge to all of us who dare call ourselves Christians,” St. Sabina’s Father Michael Pfleger preached at the Back to School Sunrise Unity Prayer Service on Aug. 27. The service is usually held on Oakwood Beach but rain forced it to nearby Holy Angels Church. “We are all too aware there is a death procession going on in Chicago,” Pfleger told the congregation who gathers annually to pray for a peaceful school year. Violence is an epidemic in the city and nation, he added. “We’re in a state of emergency. Our children are living in fear,” Pfleger said. “How can you get an education when you’re afraid to go to school and praying you get home from school alive?” As of Aug. 30, 2,818 people had been shot in the city this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The total shootings in 2015 numbered 2,988. In the month of August, Chicago had more shootings and homicides than New York City and Los Angeles combined. “The question we want to ask ourselves is have we become immune” to the violence? Pfleger asked. “I’m not talking about the people out on the street. I’m talking about the church. Where is the church when all this is going on?” What are we doing right now to fight against the violence in our community? he asked. God gave us the talents and ability to help and we must respond. “Our membership is not who sits in our pews. Our membership is the city of Chicago,” he said. At the end of Mass, Archbishop Cupich addressed the congregation. “One word that I want to leave you with today that’s part of the Gospel and part of the message that you heard from Father Mike — risk,” the archbishop said. “Be willing to take a risk.” Our nation has become riskaverse, he said, but we must reach out and take the talents God gave us for something beyond ourselves. “Because when we don’t take risks we tell our children the future is bleak,” the archbishop said.