Today is the 7th anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings in December 2012. In seven years, we’ve made our schools into prisons, but have done very little to stop the violence. This prayer was written two days after the tragedy, the third Sunday of Advent. The Sunday of joy.
Our soul magnifies the Lord. In the depths of who we are, we rejoice in you, our savior. But even as we come rejoicing, the truth is that there are so many things that threaten to steal the joy you give us. The truth, is that many things weigh on our hearts this morning.
We offer you our broken bodies, our broken relationships, our broken praise. Jesus, may your peace make us whole. And for those who mourn, we ask your peace and comfort for those holding both grief and joy this morning.
Lord, our Hiding Place, our Refuge – we lay at your feet the impossibility of the deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We cannot comprehend the violence in our world. We do not understand the loss and pain. Fear and confusion threaten to eclipse joy as we wonder:
Where is hope?
Where is peace?
Where is joy?
Have we lost hope as we bring you this offering of pain? Will peace ever exist? Should we stop this joyous celebration in order to mourn?
No. It is because of your Good News of great joy that we can bring that which steals our hope: pain, fear, and worry. We name them and give them to you as an offering. For it all we have to bring today.
As we sing this morning, as we proclaim your favor – we do not ignore the reality of pain and suffering in the world. Instead we proclaim the Good News because this is what true faith is: that we can bring our pain at the same time we bring you praise – that as tears of suffering mix with tears of joy, you hold them both. Just as you hold us.
Jesus, this is what you have done for us. In you, it is not either suffering or joy but that we have joy even in the midst of suffering. Joy is more than happiness – joy comes from peace, and peace comes from hope – and our hope is in you.
We remember your command to us: that we love one another. As we love others, we abide in your love. This week as we celebrate your magnificence, Strength of Our Heart, help us to love one another just a little bit more in the days to come.
We rejoice in the Lord always. Again, we will say, “Rejoice!” Even as classrooms become crime scenes. Even as innocence is been stolen. Even as we bury children. For you are Immanuel, God with us. Present in our pain. Present in our fear. Present at our death. And present as you bring us into new life with you. Dear Jesus, hold our joy until we can claim it again. Amen.
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Prayers for the People: Scripturally Based Prayers for Worship Prayers for the People is a collection of prayers for worship. These prayers offer the worshipping community and individuals fresh perspectives for praying the words of Scripture, using current language and references. Cross-referenced to the Revised Common Lectionary, pastors seeking to lead their people in prayer have found a relevant and beautiful source for worship planning.