Skip to main content

thoughts and prayers (updated)

note: i wrote these words back in 2017, after a series of tragedies.  you can see the original post here.  i have adapted these words to deal with the unthinkable gun violence perpetrated against people of color and children in our country in the last couple of weeks.  i share them here as a way to move us, as people of faith, to something more than just words, cynicism, or empty religious platitudes.   


It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And once again I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is often only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all (Micah 6:8).  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an empty ritual.  Prayer connects us with God and, when we pray for others in ways that are honest and intentional, it gives us the space to move beyond the quick statement, and into a place where we can truly feel another’s pain, and imagine new ways of meeting people in the midst of that pain. It gives us a way to begin to experience, and then offer, hope.  Prayer is neither a magic wand we wave to try and fix something, nor a kind of spiritual medication we take to make ourselves feel better.  It is a connection with the living God, who calls us to acknowledge our pain, our questions, our anxieties, and our helplessness, while also recognizing God’s love, power, and invitation to us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world.  And so we do more than simply offer #thoughtsandprayers, as some might do: we actually pause to pray; to suffer with; to lift another up; to ask how we might be a part of the healing.  So let us pray:


God of life and death and resurrection and hope and victory,

We come to you now, even as the bitter fruit of our country's love affair with violence is heavy on our hearts.  Even as the echoes of gunfire ring in our ears.  Even as the cries of our neighbors in Buffalo and Uvalde, and many other places sound in our hearts.  Even now, O Lord, we come before you confessing that at times we feel overwhelmed and overcome.  Even though the tragedy hasn’t been attached to the name of our town, we still carry this pain, and we don’t know what to do. Help us, first of all, to move beyond the calloused numbness of our tired hearts, and to feel something.  May we empathize with those parents who are bent over an empty twin bed today, desperately wanting to breathe in the aroma of a child who is no longer here.  May we feel the pain of a child who doesn't understand why their Grandma never came home after going to pick up a few things at the grocery store.  May we resist the temptation to numb our pain without actually experiencing it.  

And then, God of all love, show us again that you are indeed God.  Remind us again that you are our creator, and our redeemer, the healer of all brokenness and the very hope of the world. Rekindle that fire within us, that we might be able to nurture its small light and cause it to shine right where we are.  In all that we say and do, in our work and in our play and in our homes and schools and in the marketplace, and wherever we are, help us to be a people who are constantly shining your light, trusting that you can cause that light to spread from State College to San Antonio, from Boalsburg to Buffalo, from here to wherever it is that is shrouded in grief.  And then, Lord, open us to your possibilities.  As we meet new people with real pain and real struggles, help us to see how you might be calling us to something more; something active.  If we need to listen, help us to listen.  If we need to work together, help us to build bridges that enable us to do so.  If we need to get busy, show us the ways in which we can begin to make a difference.  We long to live with an urgent focus on your great love, which has saved us and changed us, and which we believe will redeem every broken nook and cranny of this amazing and beautiful and broken world.  So move our hearts to more than just momentary consideration.  Move our hands to write letters.  Move our legs to support rallies and vigils that will speak truth to power.  Move our minds out of apathetic cynicism, and towards new and creative solutions.  Move us to love.  And hear our prayer, O Lord, for our own pain, for the pain of our neighbors here in our own places; and for the pain of our neighbors around the world.  Lord have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Lord have mercy.  Amen.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

happiness is dry underwear

we started potty training jack on thursday. we followed a program called POTTY TRAIN IN ONE DAY, which, by the way, i think is kind of crazy. i mean, if someone were to offer you a book called, "ACHIEVE WORLD PEACE IN ONE DAY" i don't think you would take it seriously. and yet here we are, trying to accomplish an equally daunting task in one 24-hour period. it is intense. the day is shrouded in a lie because as soon as your happily diapered child wakes up you tell him that it is a big party. we had balloons and streamers and noisemakers and silly string - all the trappings of a legitimate party. but it is most certainly not a party. it is a hellishly exhausting day. as soon as jack got out of bed, we gave him a present: an anatomically correct doll that wets himself. jack named him quincy. several times quincy successfully peed in the potty and even had an accident or two in his "big boy underwear." he also dropped a deuce that looked and smelled sus

bad haircuts (for a laugh)

everybody needs to laugh.  one good way i have found to make that happen is to do a simple google image search for 'bad haircut.'  when you do so, some of the following gems show up.  thankfully, my 9th grade school picture does NOT show up.  otherwise, it would certianly make this list!  please laugh freely and without inhibition.  thank you and have a nice day.