A prayer beyond “thoughts and prayers”

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Holy One,

Your children cry out to you,
in anger,
in fear,
in frustration,
in terror,
as we face, together, more gun violence in our country.

For everyone killed in the senseless violence yesterday,
May their families be comforted in the face of overwhelming grief,
Lord, hear our prayer.

For everyone wounded and in shock,
May Your Presence overwhelm their unbearable fear,
and comfort those in pain.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who are retraumatized and saturated with their anxiety
and real terror as they relive horrible events in their past,
may they be surrounded by friends and family who bring Your hope and peace.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For politicians who have cared more about contributions than human lives,
May your righteousness weigh heavily on their hearts,
and may they hear your Call to service, not only to re-election.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews,
who deserve a childhood without mass shootings
and face fear in their classrooms,
May you shelter them and reassurance them by your Presence,
and bring caring adults around them for support.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For Your Church, Lord,
for we have turned our eyes away,
or offered half-hearted thoughts and prayers,
May we stand up to those who preach freedom over faith.
May we declare that all persons are valuable and deserving of protection.
May we minister Christ’s justice, peace, and reconciliation.
May we vote our convictions and listen to Your Holy Spirit.
Lord, hear our prayer.

AMEN.


(c) 2019 Rev. Deborah Vaughn. You are welcome to use this prayer with attribution. SDG

Prayers for the whys

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Tonight I offer
prayers for the whys
prayers for the not agains
prayers for the dying
prayers for the dead
prayers for the angry
prayers for the scared
prayers for the healers
prayers for the investigators
prayers for the grieving
prayers for the bystanders
prayers for the perpetuators of hate
prayers for the unhelpful rhetoric
prayers for the politicians
prayers for news outlets
prayers for our faith communities
prayers for the gun lovers
prayers for the gun lobbyists
prayers for the peacemakers
prayers for change
prayers for hope…

Oh God, in your mercy,
hear our prayers…

et lux perpetua…

Today during our Hospice team meeting, we stopped at the 10 o’clock hour to honor the lives lost in Parkland, Florida just two weeks ago. Just two weeks…

I re-lit our memorial candles to read the 17 names. After two or three names, I could not go on. So I passed the paper to a co-worker… and to another… and then we stood in silence. And tears.

At my regular team meeting, I read the names of recent deaths, and we have a moment to honor them. Sometimes I get a lump in my throat and feel a little sad. The stories and lives of our patients affect us deeply. We know we are in a sacred work.

But this… this was so very difficult. So very, very different.

This was random.
This was evil.
This was violent.
This was full of pain.
This was senseless.

Right before I blew out the candles, I said to my teammates, “May their lights continue to shine.”

Indeed.

…et lux perpetua luceat eis…

And let perpetual Light shine upon them.

Amen.

The world is not a safe place

Gun violence makes the world feel  unsafe. Gun violence in a house of worship, even more so.

But the world is not a safe place. 

That seems obvious. But we cling to this ideal of peace, love and happiness. All you need is Love. Give peace a chance. We are the world. Let there be peace on earth.

I can sorta-kinda cope with violence in random public places, on public transportation, in shopping malls. Workplace shootings are rampant. Sadly, I have an expectation that it just might happen in some corner of my little world. It boggles my mind that I have to be vigilant for my personal safety in a public place, but this is the world we live in now.

I’ll be honest… I don’t get it. My mind can’t process this kind of hate. I see what evil has done. And I am numb.

Shootings in the public square are bad enough, but what about the attacks in churches? It seems ages ago since the attack in Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston. How do we ever process the seemingly random violence of a shooter, assasinating the very folk who welcomed the stranger into their midst? Then to discover that, according to investigators, he plotted this for weeks?

Then I think about the violence at other places of worship. What about the mass shootings at a Sikh temple in 2012 in Oak Creek, Wisconsin? Or the six  people shot in a mosque in Quebec?

The churches in California, Tennessee, and now, Texas?

I don’t have answers for this kind of blind hate and prejudice. Lord knows I have enough unkind thoughts for some specific politicians today… but then I realize…

I am no better than the perpetrator of a mass killing if I let hate fester in my heart. 

Let me be clear: Am I looking for justice for the Charleston 9? Absolutely! But responding with violence? May it never be!

The stories will trickle in over the next weeks from the Sutherland Springs tragedy. We will read about families and shocked townspeople. We will get the pablum of “thoughts and prayers.” And we will hear the horrible theology of God needing another angel (ugh!!) and a diversion to a diatribe about mental illness instead of finally addressing gun control.

It has happened yet again.

The rhetoric swirls yet again.

And the world will continue to be unsafe.

And I will continue to wonder why any private citizen should own an assault rifle.

Another?

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Another?
Another shooting?

Whatever the reason…
Whoever has done this…
I do not understand.
I feel helpless…
The loss of lives, the stunned survivors…

I cannot make excuses or place blame.
(But, God, how I want to!)
My anger rises at the impotent lawmakers,
The greed of the gun lobbyists…

My heart can only cry out,
“Another?”

How many votives will I light?
How long will it take to light them?
And then… to watch them flicker out,
one by one by one…
life by life by life…

My heart can only cry out,
“Another?”

Make. It. Stop.

This was written on the one year anniversary of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. (See the original post…)

It is, sadly, appropriate for today. Three long years after Newtown, things haven’t changed much.

Lord, have mercy.

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“O God,
Make it stop!”

Cry the daughters and mothers
As their sons and brothers
Lie in the street
Blood on their feet

“Not my baby!
Not my child!
Not mine, not mine!”

And someone says
“We have the right to bear arms!”

And there is
Silence.

All turn and stare as the cold hard words
Clip their hopes
Once more…

“O God,
Make it stop!”

Cry the brothers and fathers
As their mothers and daughters
Are crumpled in bed
Shot in the head

“Not my baby!
Not my lover!
Not mine, not mine!”

And someone says
“We must stand our ground!”

And there is
Weeping.

As they walk away,
as they give up hope
No peace, no promise
No more
No way…

O God,
Make it stop
May there be
a night without gunshots

A day without a brokenhearted family’s tears.

Make it stop
May it be
Bring your peace
Help us, Lord…
Amen

Elegy for a Broken World

 

It is just an echo
of the Creator’s Masterpiece.
Her former glory now hints
of brilliance and beauty.

Impressions of the Divine’s handiwork
are there…
You must keep looking.
This world is still
in the hands of the Almighty.
The gun violence
the racism
the sexism
the self-interested corporations
are just a symptom
of this broken world.

Weep.
Pray.
Reflect.
Repent.
Remember.
Act.

Take the steps that are necessary
to send Light
streaming into minds and hearts,
to broadcast the wailing,
to comfort the mourning,
to offer hope to the forever-changed.

Be their voice.
Say their names.
Call out the questions
to the entitled and smug who champion
“the right to bear arms”
and who have more blood on their hands.

Be the David against Goliath.
Speak Truth.
Preach Justice.
Offer Mercy.
Be Christ’s hands and feet. 
But most of all…
Be Love.