A Lament When Words Are Hard To Find

5b2ef2ee0f9add27ee638721a473f123For those who know me well, I usually don’t struggle to find words.  If I don’t have an answer or response I usually have a question.  But lately, I have not had words.  I’ve been slow to write what is supposed to be a biweekly blog.  But when you don’t have anything meaningful to say, then I have found it’s usually better to hold the silence.

I’m really wrestling with the outbreak of violence that has been happening across our globe the past couple of months.  The frequency has increased.  The reasons and locations are varied.  Many of them have happened in one of two places:  schools and houses of worship.  Two places that we have taken for granted should be safe.  I am heartbroken to say that even this past Sunday, one of the microphones during worship made a very loud crackle sound and for a second I looked around to make sure no one was panicking about a possible gun shot because it reminded me of that sound.  That thought entered my head and then made my heart and stomach sick.

I looked online to remind myself of all of the shootings in the past year.  I was surprised at how many I had already forgotten. There’s a list at the end of this blog.  I don’t offer it to be depressing or to be making some divisive political statement.  I offer this as a reminder that we are called to be peacemakers and we live in a world far from peace.  I offer this as an invitation to remember.  To remember the families that still grieve their unexpected losses.  I offer this as an invitation to pray for those who are so broken themselves that they believe the best thing for them to do is to enact violence on others.    Because we Christians have a message of love and peace.  Jesus said “Blessed are the Peacemakers”.  (Matthew 5:9)   Can we step into the gap somehow, and remind a person that help can come in a different way than acting on their anger or pain or illness or whatever the reason that might cause someone to pull a trigger on another person. Lord have mercy.

My Lament:

Hear the cries of mothers whose children did not come home from school.

See the tears of husbands whose wives did not come home from worship.

The grief is so painful we have almost become numb.

Help us not to forget even though the next head line takes over.

Blessed are the Peacemakers.

Confusion and chaos breaking out.

Why Oh God?  Why would you let this happen?

Over and over again.

Why Oh God?  Must one community after another be heartbroken?

Blessed are the Peacemakers.

Help us God to help ourselves.

This is no righteous anger.  No justice is being fought for by these bullets.

This is no easily explained violence.  No purpose other than pain is being wrought.

Help us God to help ourselves.

Blessed are the Peacemakers.

Jesus, we look to your teaching and example.

“Show us the way!”, we cry.

If we turn down the volume enough, we hear it. Listen hard.

The soft weeping of our Lord, calling each victim my name.

So please look over this list if only to offer a prayer today for the families this list represents.  To soften your heart so that we don’t become numbed to a new norm of public shootings as being expected.  And to remind us that Lamentations is an appropriate way to pray when it hurts badly.  There’s a whole book in the Bible of nothing but Lamentations!

And then we trust that healing comes, peace comes, joy will always return in one form or another like a weed trying to force its way out of a crack in the cement.  But until that time, Lord hear our prayers.

22 cited incidents of public shootings since February 2018.  161 lives lost.  Over 190 wounded.

May 7, 2019 – Highlands Ranch, CO-STEM School Highlands Ranch – 1 killed, 8 injured

April 30, 2019 – Charlotte, NC – UNCC Campus – 2 killed, 4 wounded

April 27, 2019 – Poway, CA – Synagogue shooting- 1 killed, 3 injured

[April 19, 2019 – Sri Lanka – 258 killed, 500 injured – bombs not shootings – not included in count]

March 15, 2019 – Christchurch, New Zealand – 51 killed, 49 injured

February 15, 2019 – Aurora, IL, Henry Pratt Company plant – 6 killed, 6 injured

January 23, 2019 – Sebring, FL – Bank shooting – 5 killed

November 19, 2018 – Chicago, IL – Mercy Hospital – 4 killed

November 7, 2018 – Thousand Oaks, CA – Bar- student line-dancing event – 13 killed 12+ injured

November 2, 2018 – Tallahassee, FL – Yoga Studio – 3 killed, 5 injured

October 27, 2018 – Pittsburgh, PA – Synagogue shooting -11 killed, 6 injured

October 3, 2018 – Florence, SC – Officer search warrant stand-off – 2 killed, 10 injured

September 20, 2018- Aberdeen, MD – Rite-Aide Distribution Facility – 4 killed, 3 injured

September 6, 2018 – Cincinnati, OH – Fifth Third Center – 4 killed, 2 injured

August 26, 2018 – Jacksonville, FL – Jacksonville Landing Madden NFL 19 competition – 3 killed, 9 injured

June 28, 2018 – Annapolis, MD – Capital Gazette shooting – 5 killed, 2 injured

June 17, 2018 – Trenton, NJ- Art All Night Festival – 1 killed, 22 injured

May 30-June 4, 2018 – Scottsdale, AZ – Scottsdale Spree Shootings – 7 killed

May 18, 2018 – Santa Fe, TX – Santa Fe High School – 10 killed, 14 injured

April 22, 2018 – Nashville, TN – Nashville Waffle House – 4 killed, 2 injured

March 9, 2018 – Yountville, CA – Veterans Home of California – 3 killed including a pregnant woman

February 14, 2018 – Parkland, FL – Stoneman Douglas High School shooting – 17 killed, 17 wounded

Lord, Hear our Prayers,

Pastor Lory Beth

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