Last Monday morning, we woke to the news of yet another horrific act of violence in our nation. At least 59 people are dead and 527 or so were injured in Las Vegas at the hands of an American who struck terror into lives of so many concert goers. As with the other gun related incidents in Orlando, San Bernardino, Newton and others in recent memory, the Las Vegas attack leaves a wake of pain, sadness, destruction and yes, even anger! It is at times like these when we are tempted to ask God why these horrific things happen, as if it were a question that could be answered. Perhaps we are not asking the right question, as it seems God does provide direction when we pause to ask the, ‘how’ question. The prophet Jeremiah records how Rachel is weeping inconsolably for her children because they are no more. Matthews gospel records in chapter two how those words are again fulfilled in the massacre of the children two and under. “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
How do we make it through the tragedy that comes in this conditional world? The answer is , first you pray and then you act.
Pray for the victims, survivors and their families. Pray for first responders and those who risked their own safety in offering care to others. Pray asking for the Spirit of God to fall upon all the people of God to bring about not only physical healing, but emotional and spiritual healing as well. May we have the courage to walk with those in need by providing words of encouragement and hope. May we be attentive to the needs of all of those who grieve this day. Pray and grieve for the loss of public safety as clearly it is not a given in today’s world.
Pray for the perpetrators of such violence as there are those in our country who act through pain, hate and fear, bringing about such overwhelming destruction. Pray for the families and friends of those who commit such horrific, terrifying acts of violence and who themselves are caught up in the frenzy of those seeking answers from both law enforcement and press.
Pray for our country and our leaders. No matter where you are on the political spectrum the time has come to lift up our leaders in prayer encouraging them to lead with an authority guided by love for all. A time to act on behalf of the majority who seek change to help reduce the risks to society, and not the minority who can pay to keep the status quo or reduce to the already chaotic and failing system of checks and balances.
As Paul asked of the early church in Colossians 4:3, we must pray that God would open a window for us to share the love of Christ in the midst of the pain. Just as God’s church has led the response to hurricane relief, pray that it would now again be a light in Las Vegas. This is a matter that the church can come together and address as our prayers move us to a place for faith in action. For as James reminds us, ‘faith without works is dead.’ The time has come for loving voices to overcome the sound of bullets. It is time for Christian Community to stand and speak up on the issues we have been silent on for fear of being offensive to some. Our silence is speaking volumes in saying it is alright for an individual to purchase and use weaponry as to harm so many innocent people. Yes, it is controversial but it must be addressed as silence shall surely be seen by many as being complicit. It has been said that some our guilty but we all are responsible. Today may we be mindful of our own responsibility in the violence that has overcome so many of our communities. Let us stand up together to prayerfully and boldly call for peace and then act to bring it about.
May this be your prayer this week:
‘Loving God, as words so often fail us in these circumstances we trust in the Spirit to intercede for us with groans too deep for words. We lift up those who have been caught up in the terrifying events in Las Vegas who need our prayers. We rejoice with those who offer up thanks for the work of others who selflessly came to the aid of those in need. We pray for the leadership of this country that they may be attentive to the calls of the people. Lord give us the strength to move from prayer to action. May we be bold to proclaim the gospel of peace and reflect the love you have for us to those around us. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.