August 8, 2019

Dear Friends:

You have seen the headlines:

“Ohio Comes Together to Mourn Shooting Victims” (Columbus Dispatch)
“Carnage Numbs Nation” (The Star Tribune)
“Shaking a Bewildered Nation to its Core” (NY Times)
“Sorrow, Anger: Nation Mourns“ (USA Today)

The events of these last days are bewildering, heart-breaking, impossible to comprehend.

How can there be such hatred, such violence? How can it happen here in our great nation, over and over again? Why? What can be done? We are almost numb to the violence these days…almost. But then we watch parts of the scene or read about the victims, and something shatters inside of us.

Scripture speaks to our hearts, even in this.

Especially in this. There are times in our lives and in our nation when lament is the only response possible. I find myself turning to Psalm 137“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” and Dayton, and El Paso, and Orlando, and Parkland, and….

We often don’t know how to respond.

But, as followers of Christ, we can respond in love. We can pray. We can send help. We can build bridges with people who are different than us. We can decry racist chants and inflammatory oratory. We can speak up. We can extend the circle of Jesus’ embrace.

Above all, let us pray for those who have lost loved ones. I also want us to pray for our nation. We are people who have hope in Christ even when the worst happens. Let’s hold onto that hope and share it with those with whom we come into contact, with love and grace.

Lord, we are in shock and grief. The hatred and violence of this past week is so dark that it takes our breath away. We pray for the families and friends of those who died. Help them to know your hope and care even when the grief feels unbearable. Be with the injured as well. Heal them. Surround them with your comfort and care. We thank you for our first-responders and police and medical personnel, and all who rushed in to save countless lives. Comfort us as we lean on your love and compassion in the face of this deep loss. In Christ, who is our Hope. Amen.